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Meet our 2013 School Sun Hat Contest Winners

Each year, Coolibar provides hats to five lucky classrooms across the US as part of our initiative to promote sun safety in schools. Our winners this year include a school nurse, a preschool teacher and lots of lucky students.

Let’s meet our 2013 winners…



Dawn from Monte Vista Elementary – Las Cruces, NM

Monte Vista Elementary – Las Cruces, New Mexico

Being a school nurse, Dawn knows the importance of sun safety. Monte Vista is located in an extremely hot part of New Mexico and the playground has very little shade. After winning the contest, Dawn was able to distribute hats to the entire kindergarten class to kick off the new school year, and her sun safety program. She teaches classes on sun safety and reminds her students to wear sunscreen and a hat. Dawn loved the hats so much, she purchased more through the Coolibar School Sun Hat Program. Monte Vista students will definitely be protected this year. Way to go!

Kerri from Bramlett Elementary – Oxford, MS

Bramlett Elementary – Oxford, Mississippi

Kerri is a preschool teacher at Bramlett Elementary and knows it’s important for students to practice sun safety at recess, so she entered the contest. Her personal concern about sun exposure has escalated over the years, as she lost her friend to melanoma at the age of 30. In addition, her sister-in-law in Australia shared that kids there aren’t allowed to play outside at recess unless they wear a hat. Kerri hopes this becomes a trend in the US. Her class now wears their hat every day!

Dylan from Ogden Elementary – Wilmington, NC

Ogden Elementary – Wilmington, North Carolina

Dylan entered hoping he’d win for his 4th grade class. He grew up learning about sun safety; his mom is a naturopathic physician specializing in children’s health. Dylan lives in a beach community and is always outdoors, so sun protective clothing and hats are a natural (chemical free) way to protect him from the sun (and it keeps his mom happy)! Dylan handed the hats out during the school’s end-of-year class party.


Kaili from La Esparanza CDC – Albuquerque, NM

Kaili entered the contest because her school recently moved to a new location where there are not enough shade structures for the kids while playing at recess. Less than 1 percent of the class brings a sun hat to school, so winning Coolibar hats was very exciting! Kaili handed out the hats to her preschool class, and also provided them a lesson on sun protection.

Allison & Ethan from Fort Belvoir Elementary – Fort Belvoir, VA

The policy at Allison and Ethan’s school doesn’t allow teachers to apply sun block to students. But everyone can wear sun hats, so the brother and sister duo entered for their class. Many students at Fort Belvoir Elementary have families in the Air Force, so while sun protection is on their minds, family budgets are tight. The students are outside at recess every day, not protected from the sun. Allison & Ethan hope the hats will raise awareness among the kids and they will share with their parents. They handed the hats out at field day, when it gets really hot.

Congratulations to all of our 2013 School Sun Hat Contest winners!

Want to win hats for YOUR class? Our 2014 School Sun Hat Contest form is now available!  Enter here:


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Coolibar and PRI Celebrate 10 Years

Coolibar and Partnership Resources, Inc. (PRI) recently celebrated 10 years of doing business together! PRI forms partnerships with Twin Cities area businesses, arranging jobs for its more than 230 clients with developmental disabilities. These workers help Coolibar by sorting, steam cleaning and repackaging returned items. Between four and 10 PRI clients work at Coolibar daily.PRI group

The 10-year partnership was marked with a luncheon provided by PRI and held at the Coolibar St. Louis Park, MN headquarters. The event was featured this week in the local Sun Sailor newspaper, which you can read here.

Coolibar is proud of our 10 years with Partnership Resources, Inc!

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Keeping My Family Sun Safe

Quiana and Nia Agbai

by Quiana Agbai, Blogger, Harlem Lovebirds

We’ve been hit with brutal snowstorms this winter where I live in the Northeastern U.S., and while we tend to bundle up to protect ourselves from the elements an important area is often forgotten in the winter, especially by African-Americans: the skin.Nia Agbai stays sun safe

In my previous Coolibar blog post, I shared how a diagnosis of discoid lupus years ago has increased my vigilance regarding sun safety. However, I have to admit while I do an excellent job slathering on sunscreen, wearing sun-safe clothing and putting on my sunglasses in the summer it’s much harder to follow through in the colder months. With a 3- year-old daughter and a baby on the way, it’s important to me to set a good example for my family in regard to sun safety, and I’ve found three key tips to help me do this:Quiana Agbai makeup tips

Find products that multi-task – from the latest BB cream, lip balm and hair crème, there are so many dual function products. And who really has time for layering on serums, sunscreen, then foundation? I’ve found it best to find products that have both the coverage and moisture my skin craves along with the recommended sunscreen dosage. As an African-American, I especially like the blended products because the “sheer” sunscreens alone tend to still show up on darker skin. However the coverage make-up with sunscreen added in blend much better.Nia Agbai wearing sunglasses

Keep your sun-safe accessories accessible – getting out the door on time is a challenge each morning, and rather than fumble around I find it’s helpful to keep everything in a logical place. Sounds so easy to do but you’d be surprised how many mornings I still run around to find that particular pair of sunglasses – including my daughter’s Christmas glasses she insists on wearing well into the New Year – or a missing glove. I keep my own items in the same to-go bag each morning and find that rather than cluttering our narrow entryway with extra baskets or containers, good old fashioned pockets are helpful. I can put my daughter’s items right in her pockets including her SPF lip balm which she applies right before we head out the door each morning, and she knows it’s part of her sun-safe routine!

Make it a game – this is especially true for my husband who, like most men, loves a bit of competition! Rather than inundate him with frightening facts, I make an aging game out of it comparing our laugh lines, forehead wrinkles and emerging eye creases while doing our morning routine. I jokingly do a tally of “who has more.” Of course, while we can’t literally count our lines, it has spurred him to make sunscreen a part of his regular routine. Despite an inherent SPF factor of 13.4 for African-American skin vs. 3.4 for white skin, the Skin Cancer Foundation says that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. with disproportionately high mortality rates in darker-skinned people.

With these three tips in mind, it’s a simple way to include my entire family in sticking to a sun-safe routine. I’ve had family members affected by cancer and while awareness has definitely increased, I’m enthusiastic about setting an example within my community – especially when we as African-Americans often think we’re immune from sun-safety recommendations due to our increased melanin. Join me and Coolibar as we continue on our sun-safe path!

Quiana Agbai blogs about young family life in metro-NYC, entrepreneurship and how to balance it all while having fun. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she is a 2002 graduate of Wellesley College. After eight years in advertising and media, she decided to pursue her passion of family life and owning her own business. She can be reached at

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What History Tells Us About Skin Cancer and African Americans

February is African American History Month. Among much else, it can serve as a fitting reminder about a myth that has persisted for too long: African Americans (and those with darker skin tones) can’t get skin cancer. In fact, among the African American population, melanoma – the most serious kind of skin cancer – is much more deadly than among Caucasians.

You may have heard that naturally dark-skinned people have less chance of getting skin cancer, and that is true.  Darker skin naturally has more melanin, the dark pigment that protects against the sun’s UV rays. But the simple fact is, no one is immune to skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation shares these facts:

  • The overall 5-year melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 77 percent, versus 91 percent  for Caucasians.
  • 52 percent of non-Hispanic black patients receive an initial diagnosis of advanced stage melanoma, versus 16 percent of non-Hispanic white patients.
  • Melanomas in African Americans (and other nationalities, including Asians, Filipinos and Indonesians) most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment. Up to 75 percent of tumors arise on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common skin cancer among African Americans. It tends to be more aggressive and carry a 20-40 percent risk of metastasis (spreading).
  • Skin cancer comprises one to two percent of all cancers in African Americans.  

Why is this? One reason is that the familiar story about how darker skin has a higher SPF than lighter skin (which it does) has for too long translated into “My dark skin prevents me from getting skin cancer” (which it doesn’t). It’s important to keep skin cancer top of mind; early diagnosis is often critical in successfully treating melanoma and other skin cancers.

Another big reason, according to Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, is within the medical community. Crutchfield is a board-certified dermatologist in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with specialized experience treating ethic skin. He says that the relatively higher incidences of skin cancers among Caucasians – and therefore the related training for physicians – makes it more difficult for professionals to diagnose skin cancer among African Americans and other ethnic groups. The lesions, moles and other symptoms that commonly help with a skin cancer diagnosis do not always appear as readily on someone with darker skin.

Skin cancer in African Americans is also more apt to develop in harder-to-find areas such as under fingernails or toenails.

So education is one of our most effective tools to combat skin cancer. As African American History Month continues, keep in mind how you can avoid skin cancer.

Be SunAWARE and be safe!











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Some Healthy Snack Ideas for the Big Game…

Hungry Happenings - Coolibar Snack Ideas

While Coolibar helps you stay healthy outdoors with our sun protective clothing, we can also help during one of our favorite indoor sports – the Super Bowl party. We’ve assembled some of our favorite snack ideas that will help you and your guests maintain your bodies and minds for a great spring 2014! Check out our Healthy Snacks here.

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Ocular Melanoma: Skin Cancer in Your Eyes?

Yes, melanoma – known as the most serious type of skin cancer – can occur in your eyes! In fact, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation, ocular melanoma (also known as OM) is the second most common form of melanoma, with about 2,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. About half of OM cases are eventually fatal as the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

And as with all melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancers, prevention starts with education. A terrific guideline: The greater your risk of developing skin cancer through exposure to UVA and UVB rays, the greater your risk of developing OM.

Why the Eye?

OM is similar to skin melanoma, but there are significant differences. Many people have heard of the natural pigment melanin, which gives our skin its particular color, and we might also know that melanoma develops from the cells which produce melanin. But these cells are not just in our skin. We carry them in our intestinal lining, and in our hair; they also give color to our eyes.

Who is at Risk?

Researchers at the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center say that people most at risk for OM  generally:

  • Have fair skin, and tend to sunburn easily.
  • Have light-colored eyes.
  • Are of European descent, especially northern Europe.
  • Have occupations such as welding, where proper eye protection is vital.

Also, age is a factor: people 50 and above have a much greater risk of developing OM.

What Can You Do?

It’s important to realize that anyone can develop ocular melanoma. Our eyes are constantly exposed to the sun whenever we are outside, whether we are active on the tennis court or running errands in the car. We should pay attention to eye care right along with skin protection. Here are some tips:

– Invest in a good pair of sunglasses. Look for a pair that blocks 99-100 percent UVB and UVA rays. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN offers tips on selecting sunglasses.

– Wear a hat with at least a 3-inch brim (minimum recommendation of the American Academy of Dermatology).

– Start your children early on the path of UV protection. Get them into the habit of wearing sunglasses and hats.

Take it from melanoma survivor Timna: “EVERYONE needs to do everything they CAN do to protect their eyes”.

Check out our selection of sun protective sun hats and sunglasses.  All Coolibar sun hats are UPF 50+, and all sunglasses carried by Coolibar block 100% UVA/UVB rays.

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Cooltect Adds Cooling Effect to Sun Protection

Coolibar is already thinking spring: warmer temperatures, more active lives and all that goes with them. This spring, we’re also thinking about staying cool when the weather heats up.

Which brings us to CooltectTM. What is it?

Unlike other names you may have seen as part of our SUNTECT® fabrics, such as ZnO, aqua plus, 3D dri or lite, Cooltect is not a fabric.

Instead, it’s an innovative cooling technology that Coolibar adds to the sun protective fabrics in selected items. You can usually tell if your Coolibar item has Cooltect by looking on the inside lining. You can probably feel it, too; Cooltect actually holds the garment slightly away from the skin, creating extra airflow.

But Cooltect doesn’t really start working until you do. Think about the instant cooling sensation when you start chewing a piece of mint gum. Just as the gum reacts to saliva, the technology within the fibers of the Coolibar garment reacts as your body begins to perspire. This activates a cooling sensation and helps lower the surface temperature of your skin.

This cool, comfortable sensation has already impressed some well-known Coolibar athletes; check out their reviews here and here.Coolibar Sponsored Athlete Chad Hannon

Remember, Cooltect doesn’t replace any of the Coolibar features that provide UPF 50+ sun protection. You get fitness gear that protects AND keeps you cooler during warm weather activity.

Coolibar offers Cooltect cooling technology on select UPF 50+ products suited for fitness activities. They include our Long Sleeve Cool Fitness Shirt for women, Long Sleeve Cool Fitness Shirt for men, Short Sleeve Cool Fitness Shirt for women, Short Sleeve Cool Fitness Shirt for men and the Quarter Zip Long Sleeve Fitness Pullover for women. Watch for the latest Coolibar products featuring Cooltect in our spring catalog!

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2014: The Year to Make it Happen

Coolibar makes it happen in 2014

At the turn of the New Year, did you vow that 2014 would be the year that your dreams and goals would become reality? Perhaps your wish list included a travel destination, a positive health habit, a new adventure or an endeavor you’ve always dreamed about. You’ve likely also heard that once you start, it takes 21 days to break or form a new habit.

So here we are, 21-plus days into 2014. How’s it going?

If you answered: “Weellll…” then take heart. Research now shows that achieving a longer-term goal will require more than that first 21-day cycle. Instead, it takes, on average, from 66 to more than 200 days to “Make It Happen.”

If you find this discouraging, take heart again. To turn a dream into reality, it helps to keep in mind these three steps:

1) Define the Why. Figure out why the goal is important to you. Why is it important to achieve the dream? Who will it impact? Why do you want to make this impact? Figuring out why your resolution is important will encourage you to make it happen!

2) Take Action. Remember the adage that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? Reassess your goals and plan as you move forward with each step on your journey. Does your goal still ring true? Does it still satisfy the “Why?” Does it still make sense as planned, or do you need to make an adjustment?  Take another step, and re-commit to the work required.

3) Visualize Your Success. Draw on the experience of previously successful models. There are good examples all around us: people that have turned a dream into reality. See “the win” in your mind’s eye.

The new year is underway. Take the time this year to commit to your dreams, health, and goals – to program a new you. Speaking of new, you can start showing off your athletic and sun safe prowess now by signing up to be a 2014 Coolibar sponsored athlete. Share your favorite sport, your inspiration and your goals as you achieve them – and wear the latest Coolibar gear! Deadline for applications is Sunday, January 26.

While you’re at it, check out what the new you can wear from our new collection of sun protective clothing for spring. Coolibar wishes you the courage, health and happiness to Make It Happen in 2014!


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The Sun, Heat and Skin Cancer: Is Tennis Too Dangerous?

On days like this past Thursday in Melbourne, the answer is yes. That day, all matches in the Australian Open – the opening grand slam event in pro tennis each year – were suspended because of heat that climbed to 110 degrees F (40+ C).

That’s not sustainable for players or fans; if you happen to be either one, you know that tennis requires you to be out in the sun for hours at a time. But when it isn’t so hot, a larger and less obvious danger remains: how are people protecting themselves from UVA and UVB rays that can cause skin cancer?

In Australia – which as a nation has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world – this isn’t an unusual question. At this year’s Australian Open, officials have passed out sunscreen to fans and stocked it in the locker rooms. And well-known professional tennis players like John Newcombe of Australia and Felix Mantilla of Spain have had very public battles with skin cancer after their playing days were over.

Yet many tennis pros today say they don’t like to wear sunscreen. They cite the same reasons you might as a casual player (or a fan):  sunscreen is too slippery; it can feel like it’s blocking the body’s natural cooling process; it gets in your eyes.

Other players, like Australian former world No. 1 player Patrick Rafter (who played a doubles match in this year’s tournament), make it clear that sunscreen is a must. But what else can be done?

Patrick Rafter and Novak Djokovic at Australian Open Tennis champion Novak Djokovic posted this on Twitter from the Australian Open.

A great option that can no longer be overlooked is wearable sun protection.

In 2000, former tennis pro Chris Evert explained to a tennis magazine that her eyes had been permanently damaged by UV rays. Now, UV protective sunglasses and even contact lenses are available for players and fans.

But there’s much more available than that. In the same article, Evert mentioned that players had only recently begun wearing hats while playing. Now there’s a whole range of UPF 50+ sun protective hats in a variety of styles, with features like wide brims, breathable and quick-drying fabrics and removable neck drapes.

In fact, tennis players can now outfit themselves with entire ensembles – complete sun protection from head to foot. This is partly because of increased awareness about the dangers  of UVA and UVB rays, and partly because fashion has finally caught up with function.

Is tennis too dangerous? Even if you’re not playing in a prestigious professional tournament watched the world over, the answer should always be a resounding “no.”

Be SunAWARE and Be Safe!

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Sun Protection in Winter? Ask an Olympian

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia begin in less than a month. While the events are cold weather related – bobsled, hockey, ice skating and skiing to name a few – the athletes remind us of the importance of sun protection year round, no matter where you live. US Olympic skier Julia Mancuso is a US favorite (gold medalist and Minnesota native Lindsay Vonn is staying home due to injuries). Julia is out skiing every day to train. And although the temperatures may be low, UV rays are still damaging – especially at higher altitudes, such as in Sochi where the alpine ski courses start more than 7,000 feet above sea level. Julie gives her tips on sun protection before hitting the slopes.

  • Apply sunscreen at least fifteen minutes before going outside
  • Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect against both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays)
  • Reapply sunscreen every few hours; keep a small bottle of sunscreen with you
  • Don’t forget to protect your eyes!
  • Wear a hat or helmet

Along with UPF 50+ sun protective hats, 100%  UV protective sunglasses and SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen, we recommend the Coolibar Sun Gaiter for added face and neck coverage.

We wish Julia and the other athletes great success at the Olympics. Whether you’re going outside to cross-country ski, or taking your dog for a walk, or if you happen to be going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi (jealous!), remember: it’s always important to protect your skin from the sun!

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