Sunday, March 3, 2013

One Girl's Action to Spread Sun Protection

Sunscreen is expensive.  This is one major drawback for getting people to use sunscreen correctly if at all.  I personally use cheaper, yet effective brands (as rated by Consumer Reports or other such rating organizations).  My medicine cabinet is currently stocked with several bottles of Target brand sunscreen.  It’s greasier than I’d like, but it does a great job at keeping away those nasty UVs.

But do I apply a golf ball-sized amount on my skin…every two hours?  Admittedly, usually not.  When I go out into the sun to work or play, yes, I put on a lot of sunscreen and I reapply it regularly.  But during the winter or during work days, I fail to apply as much as I should.  I need to get better.  Yet I would imagine I’m much better than most. 

This is one main reason that people should apply SPF 30 sunscreen.  The general “rule” of SPF is that the number dictates how much more time you can spend in the sun before you start to burn.  (I’ll comment about “burn” versus “exposure” in another blog post soon).  Logically, one would think if a burn starts after 15 minutes, an SPF of 8 is all that’s needed since one should reapply after 2 hours.  But the fact is, SPF designation occurs in a lab and is based on a large amount of applied sunscreen…the aforementioned golf ball-sized amount.  Most folks apply much less, meaning your SPF protection is far less than what the bottle suggests.  Your SPF 30 may now be only an SPF 10 or even less.  And since most people will not reapply in 2 hours, your SPF goes down even more.  See where I’m leading?

But back to my original comment…sunscreen is expensive.  If I were to use the amount recommended every day, I’d probably go through 2 bottles of sunscreen per week.  A presentation I attended last year suggested that a family of four could likely spend more on sunscreen during a week-long holiday than on the vacation itself!  So in these tough times, how are we to convince the world to spend a decent chunk of their income on sunscreen?

Today I read an inspiring article about a girl in Traverse City, Michigan that started a non-profit organization called “Skin for the Future” which in part distributes sunscreen to families in need.  Lily Ambrosius has collected enough to buy 750 3-ounce bottles of sunscreen which will be distributed in the Traverse City area.  Because of her efforts, many families will have a little more knowledge, and a bit of sunscreen to become more sun safe.

How friggin’ cool is that?  Read the full article here.

While May is Melanoma Awareness month, NOW is the time to start educating and helping folks.  The tanning industry is licking their collective chops as teens line up to tan before prom and graduation.  Teens and young adults are about to venture to sunny climates for spring break.  Please follow Lily’s lead and help other’s out, through education, advocacy, or simply offering someone a bottle of sunscreen!

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