Welcome to May! Skin cancer awareness month (whomp, whomp). Not to rain on your excitement about summer and sun and being outside. We are excited too! But the statistics are a little alarming. 1 out of every 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. And 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, just in the U.S.! Because New Image deals daily with undoing sun damage and aging due to sun exposure, we feel like this is something we can speak about.
Two things are big contributors to your likelihood of getting skin cancer and seeing premature aging: UV exposure and tanning beds.
Tanning beds should be avoided altogether. A tanning bed won’t provide you with any vitamin D, and using a tanning bed even one time increases your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma before age 40 by 69%!
However, we can not, should not, and do not want to avoid the sun completely! Sun exposure is vital to our overall health – it provides us with the necessary vitamin D, and it affects our mood by increasing our serotonin levels. So we would never advocate for avoiding the sun, but we do advocate for safe sun exposure.
How to be safe in the sun:
- No more than 20 to 30 minutes in the sun without protection
- Daily SPF application and reapply every 90-120 minutes
- Physical blockers like wide-brimmed hats and UV blocking sunglasses, and UPF clothing
It’s important to note that not all SPF is created equally. When shopping for an SPF you’ll see two different types: chemical sunscreen and physical (aka mineral) sunscreen. What’s the difference?
- Absorbs into the skin
- Converts UV rays into heat and releases the heat from the body
- Easier to spread
- Look for ones without oxybenzone, a chemical linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage
- Contains zinc and titanium dioxide that sit on top of the skin to deflect UVA and UVB rays rays
- Protects your skin as soon as applied
- Less likely to clog pores
- Prone to wear off easily, so more frequent reapplication is needed
We prefer physical sunscreens, especially for the face. You may be imagining the heavy, chalky ones from days of old, and while those are still out there, it’s much easier to find a nice sheer physical sunscreen. But ultimately, the best sunscreen is the one you’ll wear faithfully! In many cases, a good combination of both types is best. That way, you’re fully protected from UVA and UVB rays inside and out.
Other SPF rules to remember:
- The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least an SPF 30.
- The fairer your skin, the higher the SPF you’ll need.
- SPF 50, blocking 98% of rays, is nearly just as effective as SPF 100, which blocks 99%.
- Don’t use expired sunscreen. Check the expiration date and watch for changes in color or consistency.
- Leaving your sunscreen in direct sunlight, in a hot car, or the bottom of your beach bag all day causes the product to lose its efficacy.
Some options we can recommend:
- Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF 36
- Alastin Broad Spectrum SPF 30+
- SkinMedica Essential Defense
- Colorescience (a brush-on powder that is the BEST for reapplication through the day and you can use all over)
- Bare Republic
- Drunk Elephant Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
- CeraVe facial sunscreen
- Cetaphil facial sunscreen
- Sun Bum Lip Balm