May is Melanoma Awareness Month

Thank you to all my readers who have stuck by my side while I am on the campaign trail! Don’t forget to go vote if you live in Sebastian County (If you are voting for my husband, Jarrard Copeland, otherwise go ahead and forget). Thank you to Dr. Sandy who has so graciously been keeping all of you blog readers entertained. Thank you to Gabbi, one of our amazing lab techs who stepped up to the plate to educate you all about sun protection! We are so blessed to have our own lab right here in our office. Thank you lab team for all you do and thank you to Gabbi for educating us all during Melanoma Awareness Month!

When I was a kid, my mom would pour buckets of sunscreen (okay, not literally) on me during the summer because she didn’t want me to get sunburnt. I always complained, because I hated the feel of icky, sticky sunscreen (still hate the feeling of it, TBH). But my mom drilled into me that it was important to take care of my body and that meant using sunscreen.

 

Now, after working at a dermatology office for a while, I realized that all of those cute freckles and moles and golden tans from the sun can actually be really harmful, even fatal. As the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) says, “tanned skin is damaged skin[1].”

 

Mom was right. Who would have thought? 😉

 

But how do we best protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays? There are lots of ways, and quality sunscreen is a good place to start. But, are all sunscreens equal? When it comes to picking out a sunscreen, there are a few factors to consider. The American Academy of Dermatology, a leading expert in skin care, recommends to look for these three essentials: SPF 30 or higher, UVA/UVB protection (also known as broad spectrum protection), and water resistant[2].

 

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Think of SPF as armor for your skin and the sunrays as dangerous, flaming arrows. SPF compares the time it takes for your skin to burn in the sun with sunscreen compared to burning in the sun without sunscreen. The more sunscreen, the longer your skin takes to burn, the higher the SPF number. To further that thought, the higher the SPF, the more protection you have against the sun’s rays.

For example, imagine you’re paper white (like me), and your skin burns within 5 minutes in the sun. If you put on sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and you burn within 5 minutes: 5 minutes x SPF 30 = 150 minutes of sun protection. Hint: if you’re out in the sun all day, this is why you need to reapply that sunscreen, and then reapply and reapply!  This SPF factor is only accurate if you use your sunscreen as directed—which means a nickel sized amount of sunblock for the face.  If you use less than this, which most of us do then you are not getting the SPF as advertised.

 

Also, you want to make sure to use a sunblock that works on UVA, UVB, and infrared rays (IR). SPF refers only to UVB protection.  One of our favorite sunblocks is TD&R because it totally defends you against UVA, UVB and IR as well as repairs your skin—more than a sun block.

 

So how else can you guard your skin, besides a good sunscreen?

 

Being sun smart is more than just sunscreen. It’s a life style change. It takes conscious effort. Like putting your sunscreen by your toothbrush so you are ready to face the day with those pearly whites and that glowing, healthy skin.

 

Ladies, did you know that some makeup brands contain SPF in them? Look for mineral-based makeup with an SPF of at least 15; here at Johnson, we like Jane Iredale’s makeup line. Who knew you could be gorgeous and sun safe at the same time!

 

Here are some other ways to be kind to your skin for the upcoming summer.

  • Hats! Hats are your friends, especially wide-brimmed ones! Protect your neck, ears, and face by being stylish and sun safe at the same time.
  • Maxi dresses are great for the summertime too! They protect your legs and are light and breezy. Add a stylin’ umbrella and you’ll be a sun-smart fashionista. And what do you use for the skin exposed to the sun? *Cough* sunscreen *cough* You guys are so smart!

 

  • Since we gearing up for summer and those beach vacays, it’s only right that we talk about swimsuits. How cute are these swimsuits by TheSeea?! While they aren’t traditional bikinis, they are still super cute and fashionable.

 

Photos Courtesy of TheSeea

 

 

  • While on the topic of clothing, there are retailors who make clothes that contain an UPF, ultraviolet protection factor. This is especially important in swimsuits, since you’ll likely be in the sun a lot[3].

 

  • Avoid being in the sun at peak hours: between 10am and 4pm. Alternatively, if you are outside during those hours, find or make some shade! A tree, an umbrella, the side of a building, your husband, your best friend, anything that makes a barrier between you and the sun.

 

  • ABSOLUTELY NO TANNING BEDS. Just no.

 

 

  • Also, when planning your outdoor activities, take a look at the daily UV index. This can help you prevent accidental overexposure to the sunlight, since there are a lot of factors that play into the UV index[4]. To find the UV index, look at the US EPA website or download their nifty app onto your phone! Your UV index is just a click away!

 

  • And don’t forget about your eyeballs! Arguably one of the most important sensory organs in our body, we need to protect them too. Look for sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays. Can’t be having cataracts at our age[5]! Or any age for that matter.

  • Some people swear by herbal supplements, such a niacin, to maintain healthy skin. While taking a quality multivitamin definitely has health benefits, the FDA has not approved oral supplements alone as a way to guard against the sun’s harmful rays[6]. The only form of sun protection regulated by the FDA is good sunscreen.

 

There you have it folks, sun protection 101! Hope you enjoyed the ride as much as me!

 

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/what-is-skin-cancer.htm

[2] https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/american-academy-of-dermatology-statement-on-oral-supplements-for-sun-protection

[3] https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/american-academy-of-dermatology-recognizes-coolibar-for-sun-protective-clothing

[4] http://www.who.int/features/qa/40/en/

[5] https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/top-sun-safety-tips/#.WmVLhVQ-eAx

[6] https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/american-academy-of-dermatology-statement-on-oral-supplements-for-sun-protection

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