May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month. It’s not really a sexy topic, but it is one you really need to know about. Read this article and it may help save your own life. Share it or re-tweet the link, and you might help to save many lives!
If you read my articles regularly you know that I don’t believe anyone should ever venture outside without wearing some kind of skin protection against the sun’s damaging UVA/UVB rays. While many believe what they can’t see, can’t hurt them, they are dead wrong. Over exposure to the sun’s rays will not just age your skin more quickly, a skin cancer about the size of a dime, can kill you!
- Skin cancer and melanoma account for about 50% of all types of cancers diagnosed combined.
- Skin cancer is one of the more preventable types of cancer.
- More than 90% of skin cancer is causes by excessive exposure to the sun.
- Each hour, 1 person dies from skin cancer.
This may sound pretty scary, and it is, but there are plenty of sun blocks of all types, plus multi-tasking moisturizers and other beauty products, that can help protect your skin quite a bit, as well.
New sun protection standards and rules are going into effect for products, this June 2012, but let’s get to the basics of what sun protection is. “SPF” stands for “sun protection factor.” It measures how long you can stay exposed to the sun without burning. An SPF of 15 extends your protection 15 times longer. However, wearing a product with SPF 15 isn’t a substitute for sensible sun bathing. These products, even the waterproof ones, won’t last on your skin indefinitely, nor can you layer two products each with SPF 15 together give you a higher SPF protection. If you plan to be out in the sun for any length of time, use the highest SPF you can handle, re-apply every two hours. You also need to use a lot more of the product than you may think you need. A couple of tablespoons per body per application (about the amount that will fill a shot glass) and a heaping spoonful for the face, is the minimum. IMPORTANT: self-tanners and bronzers make you look tan, but your skin is not protected and will burn, unless that bronzer has SPF protection built into it. And, unless the product says it has SPF of 15 or higher, you will need to use additional sun screen to protect your skin, no matter how tan it looks.
THE NEW FDA RULES COMING THIS JUNE: How will the new regulations affect you? To be sure, the FDA’s official rules are a lot more complicated than I’ll be able to share here, but the most important ones are as follows:
Under the new FDA rules, “Broad spectrum” now means that the product passes the FDA’s tests for both UVB and UVA. Previously, only UVB protection was tested, which is where the SPF value comes from. Look for ‘broad spectrum’ on the label for maximum protection. If a ‘broad-spectrum’ product has a minimum of SPF15 and is used regularly along with other sun-protection measures (clothing, shade), then these products can state on the label that they not only help prevent sunburn, but also reduce the risk of cancer and reduce signs of early skin aging.
Sun protection products can no longer use a ‘sweatproof’ or ‘waterproof’ claim. Instead FDA will allow “water resistant (40minutes)” or “extra water resistant (80minutes)” as relevant. A product must be applied and re-applied at least every two hours, especially if swimming or sweating.
From now on, all sunscreen products must include standard ‘drug facts’ information, on the back and/or side of the container. Look for this panel on the package for detailed information.
Many people love spray sun screens, but they may, pending pending FDA-requested safety and efficacy testing, be de-listed. Spray sunscreens are a favorite because they’re easy to use, but most people don’t use enough with a spray. If you love spray sun screens (as I do) note that the FDA is now going to require manufacturers put an extra safety warning on sprays to ensure proper application. Powders and wipes are not even being mentioned in the new rules for sun protection, but to be sure, plenty of people are going to continue to use them.
Finally, the FDA is proposing to cap SPF values at 50 according to the FDA, there is no hard evidence showing that really high SPF numbers are significantly better. However, an SPF of at least 30 seems to be the safest number if you’re not sure what you really want to use.
PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM THE SUN IS A MUST: HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:
1.Apply a UVA and UVB sunscreen (broad-spectrum) with an SPF of 15 or higher (I suggest SPF 30).
2. Check the directions — you may have to apply it 15- 30 minutes before going outdoors, Check expiration dates, Products that are outdated, can lose their effectiveness.
2.Use enough (see above for recommendations). Completely coat all exposed areas of your face, head and body, ears, neck, nose, shoulders, back of the hands and front/back of your arms and legs. Cover your lips with sun protective lip balm or sunscreen.
3. Apply sunscreen properly: completely coat all exposed areas of your face, head and body, ears, neck, nose, shoulders, back of the hands and front/back of your arms and legs. Cover your lips with sun protective lip balm or sunscreen.
4. Apply sunscreen even on a cloudy or cool day. Those UVA/UVB rays are still out there. The sun’s rays also reflect through windows, so consider that when sitting near a window or in your car. Re- apply it if you’ve been sweating, swimming, or some of the protection might have rubbed off on a towel, or clothing.
5. Daily Protection – sun protection isn’t just for the beach. If you refuse to wear SPF during the work day, at least consider wearing moisturizers and other cosmetics that have SPF in them.
6. Stay out of the sun during its strongest hours. Seek shade whenever possible, and cover yourself with a hat, long sleeves or an umbrella.If you won’t do this, be sure to wear enough sunblock (see above).
7.Wear a broad-brimmed hat (preferably with a back flap) to help protect your face, ears and neck.
8.Protect your eyes with UV-protective sunglasses. This will help prevent wrinkles, and also, potential eye damage.
9 .Wear sun protective clothing (tightly woven) including long pants and long-sleeved shirts as often as possible.
10: Most sun exposure, and damage, happens when you’re just walking around or sitting in your car. Protect yourself from the sun all the time, not just at the beach or pool.
Throughout May, June, July and August, The Advice Sisters will be suggesting various types of sun protection. I hope you’ll bookmark this web site http://advicesisters.net and visit often to hear about the latest and greatest.
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