It’s that time of year again . . . time for fabulous hats and flip flops and sunscreen. (At least, it is if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.)
It also means it’s time to talk about the Big C: Cancer. (And the lowercase w: wrinkles.)
Skin Cancer is one of those things that affects everyone, regardless of skin color.1 It is just NOT TRUE that those people who are dark complected are “immune” to the effects of UV rays on the skin. Even though it’s more predominant in lighter folks, everyone should protect themselves.2
Which brings us to the “how” of protecting yourself. Australia did a really great ad campaign a few decades ago, and it worked so well that they have an actual mascot and have updated the commercial.
It really is that easy: shirt, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, shade.
There are endless resources for clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) as one of their selling points. They’re perfect for our Northern Pacific beaches, which never seem to get warm. They’re also great for gardening when your toddler refuses a hat.
Sunscreen is a bit trickier – chemicals, SPF rating, frequency of application, amount to apply . . . all of these questions trip people up and the result is inadequate protection, or none at all.
SkinCancer.org has a nice little slideshow with 6 types of skin and the recommended SPF for each.3 As far as toxicity goes, the Environmental Working Group puts out an updated report every year letting consumers know where their sunscreen (and cosmetics) of choice fall on the scale of safety.4 Regardless of where you fall – you should wear it.
Hats feel like a no-brainer, but you probably wouldn’t be at all surprised to look around and realize that very few people wear anything aside from a baseball cap. What about the back of your neck? What about your shoulders? What about your décolletage (if you have it)?
Let’s bring fabulous wide-brimmed hats back into style, ladies. Every time you walk out the door and you’re going farther than your garage, ask yourself: “Where is my fabulous hat?” And men – those fedoras aren’t just for hipsters. A nice woven fedora will shade your face and breathe well enough to help prevent stinky hat hair. You know what I mean, baseball cap wearers.
Sunglasses are easy for adults, and I find that starting babies out young gets them used to wearing shades.5 Both Baz and Walter would pull them off until we got into the sun and then they’d leave them alone – even babies prefer not to squint.
There are lots of brands out there, we like Julbo for durability (Walter is now wearing Baz’s outgrown pair), but ultimately the best ones are the ones your kids keep on their faces. Also, you’ll love all the compliments you get on how your babies in glasses. They really are just too cute for words.
Finally . . . shade. Fabulously cool shade. Plant trees that will grow tall and then spread blankets out underneath them. Pick tables at the park under trees or pavilions, or invest in awnings or umbrellas to set up in places where shade is scarce – like the beach.
Start these habits now, while your children are small and good habits are easier to instill. Be vigilant about their skin care and yours. Be healthier, look younger, and feel confident that you’re doing everything you can to live as long as possible.