Fun in the Sun
Summer time is comin' and that means more hours of daylight and more time spent out in the sun. You slather on sunscreen and hope for the best, but are you doing right by your skin? Since burns, premature wrinkles, not to mention the big C -- skin cancer, are things that we all want to avoid, we’ve compiled a surprising list of items many people don’t know about sun protection. Read, and your skin will thank you.
1. Your washing machine can help protect your skin. The latest trend in sunscreen isn’t something you rub into your skin; rather, it’s something you throw in with the laundry. While clothing does provide a barrier between the sun’s harmful rays and your skin, many fabrics pack a pretty puny punch. Take lightweight cotton, for instance. Don’t count on getting more than sun protection factor (SPF) 5 protection. However, a new product called SunGuard, endorsed by the Skin Cancer Foundation, can simply be added to your washing machine load along with detergent to add an extra level of sun protection to your clothes. After your favorite T-shirts and pants are washed and dried, the protective coating is said to block more than 96 percent of the sun’s rays from permeating the fabric. Best part? The product is very affordable. One package, just $1.99, gives a load of laundry sun protection for up to 20 washings. That’s an entire summer’s worth of tees!
2. Chocolate may protect your skin from the sun. No, don’t ditch your sunscreen in favor of a
chocolate bar, but researchers say there may be something to our favorite treat’s sun-protecting effects. According to a recent study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate may increase your own UV sun protection. The researchers suggest eating little bits of chocolate—preferably dark chocolate, with 70 percent cacao content or higher—throughout the day to increase your body’s natural sun protection. Hey, we’re not arguing with that!
3. Apply sunscreen everywhere—melanoma likes to crop up in strange places. “One of the most common places melanoma has been detected is between the toes, an area most women neglect,” says Brian Bonanni, MD, a dermatologist practicing at the New York City spa Gotham Skincare. “Sunscreen should be applied to scalp, ears, hands and feet.” And don’t forget your lips, too. “A physical sunblock with micronized zinc and titanium should also always be applied to the lips. There are now formulas of sunscreen for women that do not leave white residue on the lips, which women are more likely to use.”
4. You should never leave your sunscreen in a hot car. We’ve all done it—left our sunscreen in a bag inside a car on a hot summer day. But this may weaken its potency, says Dr. Bank. Instead, treat your sunscreen like you would prescription medication and keep it away from extreme heat. “Most preservatives in sunscreens are designed and tested in a range of temperatures close to room temperature,” he explains. “If you leave it in a hot car, there is a reasonable chance that the preservative and active ingredients may to some degree degrade so it won’t be as effective.”
5. Sunscreen can’t protect one vital area of the body, so take extra precaution. The one place that’s visible to the sun’s pelting rays yet can’t be protected by sunscreen? That’s right—your eyes. According to reports, 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers appear on the eyelids. While you can apply sunscreen to your lids, it’s your eyes that sunglasses can really protect. The sun’s rays may play a role in eye degeneration and the development of cataracts. A pair of shades can go a long way in protecting your peepers. The American National Standards Institute requires that all shades (even the cheap drugstore varieties!) provide at least 95 percent UVB protection and 60 percent UVA protection. More about SPF, UVA and UVB