SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Melanoma Survivor Lauren

During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Coolibar invites skin cancer survivors to share their stories with us in their own words. Hope, determination and drive to educate others play a major role in these individuals’ lives. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone. Prevention and early detection can be life saving! We hope you share these stories with your friends, family and colleagues. Be SunAWARE this month and all year round. Read Lauren’s story below.

My name is Lauren, and I am 25 years old.  I grew up in a small Colorado town where I was devoted to my family, friends, and sports. I lived outside, and under tanning bed lights.  I went to college on a volleyball scholarship where my tanning addiction only got worse.  Realizing that skin care was my passion, I gave up college classes for cosmotology ones.  Sitting in my esthetics class is when I realized that I could very well be suffering from Melanoma, and I was right.  Four months after my first mole diagnosis, I completed four rounds of biochemotherapy.  Since then, I have been cancer free and plan on staying that way.

Growing up in a small town that consisted of mostly prisons, antique shops, and bars made it easy for any child to know that almost all activities were meant to be outdoor adventures.  Whether it was swimming at the local pool, riding bikes, or swinging from ropes across a creek; they were all under the blistering Colorado sun.  Back then, wearing sunscreen was advised but never forced.  Oh, how I wish it was.

It all started before I was even in high school.  I realized that my skin always turned into a beautiful tan after only a couple days of suffering a sunburn.  That was not a problem for me; beauty is pain, right?  Any chance I had to roll up my pant legs and arm sleeves to let the sun beam down on me, I took.  I can remember a handful of severe sunburns ranging from scabs on my shoulders, blisters on my legs, and even my lips, but that never stopped me.  All these imperfections would go away, and I would soon have that perfect tan.

Not only did I love to feel the natural sun shine, but I loved the fact that I could get even better results from a tanning bed. I learned that lying in a tanning bed for just twenty minutes was equivalent to laying on a beach for four hours; so I made sure to include the twenty minute sessions of UV rays into my daily routine.  Sometimes I would even let the time run out and start it all over again.  After all, I wanted to have the best “glow” at prom, be the darkest on the volleyball court, and Lord knows, I couldn’t let my true shade show during the winter.  Using tanning beds was a part of my life for nearly ten years.  I was addicted.  Nothing felt better to me than to lie in the warm bed, close my eyes, and doze off to wake up to an even darker complexion.  It was just too easy.

I attended cosmetology school to become an esthetician-someone who works in skin care and is knowledgeable in the best ways to care for the epidermis, go figure.   I remember the week we learned about skin disorders and diseases, a light bulb turned on in my head.  We were going through the ABCD’s of Melanoma, and I realized that a certain mole on top of my head had these exact characteristics, but still, I didn’t think to go to the doctor.  No one ever thinks, “Why yes, this is probably cancer.” Just like when you have a tooth ache, the last thing you think about or want to do is go to the dentist.

Lauren in her Coolibar at the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation Offices

A couple months had passed, and this mole was only getting worse.  My grandma finally made it clear that I had to see a doctor, so I went just a couple days later.  I explained to the dermatologist what this mole was doing.  Whether it was oozing, bleeding, or peeling, something was not right.  Without hesitation, the doctor insisted a biopsy be done.  He numbed me and removed it faster than I could say, “Ouch.”  One thing that still pops into my mind when I think about this appointment is near the end of the visit, he told me that he would pray for me.  What?  I’ve never heard a doctor say that.  Did he know something was wrong?

About a week later, the phone finally rang and it was the call my family and I had been waiting for.  We were sure it was nothing, that he would have only good news to tell us.   How wrong we were.  The mole he had removed was a Melanoma, a Stage 4 on the Clark Scale.  He pointed us in the direction of a head and neck surgeon to have a wide excision done on my scalp, as well as a sentinel node biopsy.

Before this procedure, the surgeon was confident that there would be no spread.   He told us there was only a twenty percent chance it would have gone anywhere.  With this statistic, it was easy to feel the slightest bit of comfort.   The surgery went well, but there we were again, waiting.  Another week had passed, the phone rang, and everything changed.  I remember like it was yesterday; he said, “We did an amazing job on your scalp, the margins were perfect and there was no Melanoma found.  But, they did find a little Melanoma in the sentinel node.”  Getting that news once is hard enough, but twice?  There are no words to explain.  I was back under the knife exactly a month later for a complete neck dissection to remove all remaining lymph nodes, and I was officially a Stage III Melanoma patient.

Just nine days after the dissection, I was admitted to UCH in Denver for my first round of biochemotherapy, the most aggressive strategy against Melanoma.  This consisted of three types of chemo, and two bio medicines.  I was hospitalized for five days with a twenty-four hour drip.  I would have two weeks in between cycles, so just enough time to feel almost normal, and then it was right back to where I started.  I completed four of these cycles, and I am so thankful to know that biochemotherapy cannot be done twice.  Nothing makes me happier than to know I will never have to go through that again.

Recovering was hard; I was weak, and I am still weak.  But, my attitude and outlook have never been so strong.  I never let the thought of death cross my mind; it was not an option.  No matter how miserable I was, or how alone I felt, I knew that this was just a huge lesson for me, for people I love, and for people I’ll soon meet.  I couldn’t have fought this battle without all the love and support from my family and friends, especially my mom and dad.

I strive to be a role model for others that have dealt with or who are dealing with Melanoma:   patients, patients’ families, friends, neighbors, anyone who has been affected.  Understanding this disease and how to prevent it is crucial, and I am ready to spread the awareness and make a difference. Know your skin.  Check your skin.  Love your skin.


Lauren and her mother at the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation Fashion Show Fundraiser 2/12/13
Events Parenting School sun safety SunAWARE

Win Sun Protective Hats for Your School

Coolibar’s school sun hat contest is now open for entries! If you have a child in school or are a teacher, enter to win up to 50 kids hats for your classroom! We’ll be drawing the names of five lucky winners. Enter online and complete the SunAWARE quiz (ANSWERS BELOW) along with your contact information.

Mail your completed entry to Coolibar before May 9, 2014 and you’re registered:

Coolibar School Hats
2401 Edgewood Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55426


Contest Guidelines:

To enter, you must be a teacher or student at a public school, accredited private school, member of a 501(c)(3) educational organization, or a member of a recognized support group (e.g. PTA) for any of the preceding organizations. Contest open to residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia. Contest entries for 2014 must by post marked or submitted by May 9, 2014 to be eligible for the contest drawing. Winners will be announced on May 14, 2014. Each winner will receive 50 hats maximum for their class. 5 winners will be chosen at random. No purchase necessary to win. Prize is non-transferable, not returnable and cannot be sold or redeemed for cash. Mechanically reproduced entries will not be accepted. One entry per person.Contest rules subject to change at the sole discretion of Coolibar.

Events SunAWARE

Skin Cancer Awareness Month 2013

May has been declared Skin Cancer Awareness Month by the Centers for Disease Control. They remind us to increase awareness of the importance of the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. Each year, approximately 2 million persons in the United States are diagnosed with non melanoma skin cancers. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and a history of sunburn are preventable risk factors. With a little pre-planning it is easy to be sun safe all season long, and we’ve gathered a few ideas to help get you started.

1. Be SunAWARE and Be Safe! Use the easy to remember SunAWARE acronym to help keep in mind all the steps needed for sun safety. Remember it, use it and share it!

2. Get a Free Skin Cancer Screening at the Road to Healthy Skin Tour. The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Road to Healthy Skin Tour will make its way across the U.S. The mobile Tour kicks off in New York City in May for Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Check the Tour Schedule to see if it’s visiting your community.  If you go, say hi to the Tour event managers, Chris and Christie, protected by Coolibar Sunwear.

3. SPOT Orange™ on Melanoma Monday.  The American Academy of Dermatology designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday and asks you to SPOT Orange™ to raise awareness of skin cancer. Visit the Academy’s website to find free screenings in your neighborhood.

Coolibar proudly supports the AAD’s SPOT Orange™ Skin Cancer Initiative and you can too.  We donate $10 for every Coolibar UPF 50+ SPOT™ Tee sold.

Coolibar UPF 50+ SPOT T-Shirt Coolibar UPF 50+ SPOT T-Shirt

 4. Attend a Skin Cancer Prevention Event.  Throughout the country there are walks, runs and golf tournaments that all benefit skin cancer prevention efforts. A few of our favorites are MRF’s Miles for Melanoma, MIF Safe from the Sun and the Stay Out of the Sun Run in MN.

5. Celebrate Don’t Fry Day. The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention declares the Friday before Memorial Day (May 24, 2013) as “Don’t Fry Day” to encourage sun safety awareness. Because no single step can fully protect you and your family from overexposure to UV radiation, follow as many tips as possible.

Do you have other suggestions?  Share how you plan to make May and the rest of your summer sun safe. ‘Leave a reply’ below or visit our Facebook page.

Coolibar Athletes

Find the motivation you might be missing

Staying active can be a challenge when our busy schedules interfere with our free time. We all know how this feels! And so the challenge is to find that motivation and hold on to it so we can enjoy our summer activities.

For me, getting ready for summer is where it starts. I enjoy being outdoors and most of my summer activities involve me being in a swimsuit. This is my motivation! We all tend to work out a little less in the cold winter months. Not to mention eat more during the holidays! So after all of the fuss is over, and the New Year starts, it is time for me to begin.

I set little goals since I like instant results and want to ensure I don’t lose my motivation by getting discouraged. Another way I make sure I achieve my goals is by posting them on my Motivate webpage. I set up this page for myself, my family and friends so we can help keep each other on track. We post what workout we want to do that day and then we have to do it! We all help each other by checking in with each other and seeing how we all do.

My goal for this summer involves my new favorite sport — SUP Yoga. This is yoga on a stand up paddle board which is taught at Outdoor to the Core SUP LV at Lake Las Vegas. Their class introduced an entirely new element to yoga by adding constant balance which builds and strengthens core muscles.  I am working to be able to do a headstand on the paddle board! Of course means I will need to be outdoors on the water practicing as much as possible.

Coolibar Athlete Krista Kennedy practicing SUP yoga

Thanks to the great Coolibar products, I can be out in the sun practicing longer than I could before. The sun protective material keeps me cool, and when it gets wet, it does not get heavy. It dries fast! It is also very flexible which is necessary in order for me to complete many of the positions in yoga. I was happily surprised when I attempted the wheel yoga pose and did not feel any restrictions from the Coolibar clothing.

So this spring and summer as you are setting goals for yourself remember to start small. Gradually build to your long term goal so you don’t get burnt out and quit. And when you are out in the sun, don’t forget that staying sun protected is important!

Krista Kennedy

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New Products What's Hot

Vera SUNTECT® Review

Can sun protective clothing look and feel luxurious?

I was a big skeptic too, until now.

I work in Yorkville, one of the most upscale neighborhoods in Toronto. For American readers, Yorkville is like the Soho of New York. So looking stylish is important, but so is protecting my skin from the aging effects of the sun—without looking like I live in Boca Raton.

Every week I swing by the swish clinic owned by cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett, who is our medical advisor on The to see what’s new in the world of skin care.

Preserving youthful, healthy skin is a top priority at Dr. Kellett’s clinic. That’s why she sells not only sunscreen but also chic black sun hats at the front desk. Dr. Kellett has a 360 degree approach to sun protection, “The best way to prevent skin cancer and signs of aging is to use an SPF 30 or higher daily, which covers both UVA and UVB rays. Also a hat, sun protective clothing and using behavioral techniques such as avoiding the sun between the hours of 10 and 4 pm and seeking shade are useful,” advises Dr. Kellett. 

Coolibar has made my life easier by offering stylish hats and anti-sun clothing that you’re not embarrassed to wear.  Honestly speaking, most companies using UPF 50+ fabrics are more about function than fashion.

Helen Vong in Coolibar’s Vera Resort T

I became smitten with Coolibar’s quality products last summer when I reviewed their Boyfriend Shirt—which was surprisingly beautifully cut—and wide brimmed hat (so glamorous!). So when Coolibar asked me to review some pieces from their new vera SUNTECT® line, I jumped at the chance.

I chose two tops in orange (Tango), their boldest color, for spring. When the shirts arrived, I did not expect them to feel as nice as some of my designer shirts. I spent the week experimenting with different looks, from work to play.

Somehow, through some magical melding of tightly woven beach wood fibers and spandex, these shirts are soft like cashmere and cut to drape your body beautifully so you can dress them up or down. And how they have managed to retain the high sun protection factor eludes me! My closet—and skin— thanks you, Coolibar for making this truly innovative fabric. Add some anti-aging power to your wardrobe with some vera pieces. 

Helen reviewed the Vera Plaza Polo and the Vera Resort T-Shirt. Shop all vera SUNTECT® products.

About Helen: Helen Vong is the Editor-In-Chief at, a Canadian lifestyle site focused on aging beautifully by taking care of your skin. Helen comes from the print world. She spent five years as an editor for Oxygen, a women’s fitness magazine, and as a freelance writer for Elevate, Canada’s anti-aging magazine. Fittingly, her motto in life is “Work hard, play hard – but see a good dermatologist so you don’t age prematurely!”












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Coolibar Athletes Sevve Stember

Key ingredients for fitness success

Motivation is one of a few key ingredients for success.  I stay motivated by having goals to train for and think about.  Additionally, I try to plan some short weekend trips as well as a couple larger road trips.  These are at the core of what motivates me to stay active because in order to be successful on the road, I must be prepare during the spring and summer.  I think of my trips as “final exams” where I put together months of hard work and enjoy some of the premier climbing destinations and routes in the world.  Once I’ve worked hard, I can truly savor each climb and know that I’ve prepared myself to the best of my ability. 

Thinking more locally, I always have a “project” that I am working on.  In non-climber terms, this means that there is a really hard route that I am figuring out the moves on and working towards climbing it with no falls-that could happen the next week or the next year.  Whatever your recreational outlet is, set a goal that is attainable but is beyond what you’ve ever accomplished before.  You must also believe in yourself and your ability to attain levels that you’ve never thought were possible.

My advice to anyone that is looking to stay active outdoors is to find an outdoor sport or hobby that brings you joy, satisfaction, and meaning.  Getting “burnt out” out happens all too often because people do not love what they are doing.  If you do not love running, don’t run.  Instead, walk, play soccer, bike,….the list goes on.  Try many different activities until you find the one or two that really seems to fit you, your family, and your lifestyle.  At the end of the day, you should feel like you spent your time doing exactly what you wanted to do. 

Find some people to be active with.  One of the most enjoyable parts of climbing or skiing for me is the fantastic company that I get to do those activities with.  Lastly, keep a journal where you write down the date, what you did, length of time, and any other short notes you want.  I’ve found the key to keeping a training log that you actually use is to keep entries really short.  That way, you are more likely to continue using your training journal if it does not require much time to maintain it.  This written record of activity is a good visual reminder of how many days you’ve been active in a week.  It can be a reminder that you are working hard and where you want to be or a reminder that you need to get outdoors more and get some physical activity.

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Inside Coolibar

Coolibar Environmental Responsibility

The next time you place an order with Coolibar, not only are you saving your skin, you’re also helping to reduce packaging waste. Coolibar has incorporated biodegradable garment bags and mailing envelopes into outgoing packages. Eco-One™ technology, an organic additive that enhances the biodegradability of plastics in  biologically active landfills.  Eco-One™ only starts to work in this environment, breaking down the plastic into inert humus, methane and carbon dioxide.

Even though many plastics can and should be recycled, many end up in landfills. In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported only 8 percent of the total plastic waste generated was recovered for recycling. In 2010, approximately 12 percent of plastics, including bags, sacks, and wraps were recycled.

Most of these plastics will sit in landfills for centuries. At Coolibar, we believe both informed businesses and consumers can make environmentally conscious decisions today, to impact tomorrow’s world, one step at a time. Coolibar wishes to become more environmentally responsible by making this small but significant change to using plastics bags with Eco-One™.

Look for our new bags when you place your next order!

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Inside Coolibar Sunscreens and Lotions

“Cool”ibar on Earth Day

As a Coolibar sun protective clothing fan, you can not only feel good about protecting your skin, but protecting a bit of the earth as well.

Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing Earthly Deeds:
1) For every sun protective clothing garment you wear versus sunscreen alone, you’re reducing the amount of sunscreen you use along with packaging waste. For more information read: Sun Protective Clothing vs. Sunscreen

2) Quality sun protective clothing like Coolibar’s lasts for years — we mean it! The sun protection doesn’t wash or wear out, and lasts for the life of the garment. If you have one child that outgrows the UPF clothing, you can pass it down to the next! For more information read: The Coolibar Guarantee

3) Coolibar has incorporated biodegradable garment bags and mailing envelopes into outgoing packages. (More on this to come later in the week!)

4) Coolibar recognizes the importance of using sunscreen on exposed skin (face, hands, feet, etc.). That’s why we carry sunscreen brands such as Raw Elements, chemical free zinc oxide sunscreen.

From Raw Elements Sunscreen: According to a study released in January 2008, four common chemical sunscreen agents may be at least partly responsible for increased coral bleaching worldwide. Cinnimate, benzophenone, parabens (artificial preservatives) and camphor derivatives were found to activate viruses in the algae. Not only are these chemicals infecting the reef, they are also disrupting the surrounding ecosystem as well. Algae being the primary energy source for coral reefs, once infected and depleted, the coral bleaches and dies. An estimated four to six thousand pounds of chemical sunscreen wash off swimmers each year and ten percent of the world’s coral reefs are destroyed. Environmental groups and environmentally conscious scuba and snorkel resorts around the world suggest using biodegradable zinc oxide-based sunscreens when entering fragile ecosystems such as oceans, lakes and ponds. Using a chemical free sunscreen with an active ingredient of Zinc Oxide is s a conscientious alternative to damaging sunscreens that consist chemical UV absorbers, synthetic preservatives or other harsh chemicals.

Happy Earth Day!

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Inside Coolibar

Where’s Spring?

In Minnesota it’s common place to complain about the weather. Today is April 19th and we are shoveling out from a foot of snow dumped on us yesterday – thank you Old Man Winter.

It’s difficult to practice Healthy Sunny Living when there is no sun. So, today at Coolibar, we are all thinking very deeply about spring and summer and willing it to emerge. We ask you to do the same. Share a warm thought or photo because spring like weather is right around the corner!  We’ve added a few of our customer favorites for inspiration.

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Coolibar Athletes

Rain On a Track Meet

It’s 4:30pm Monday night, and I’m standing under a bit of roof that juts out from the side of the local high school. My oldest daughter’s track team, the other coaches, a few of the more dedicated parents, and myself have taken shelter there from the pouring rain that has invaded our track meet.  We’re on a 30 minute lightning sighting delay.  Basically, we’re giving it a standard 30 minutes to get better or we’re going to call the meet off. 

Track season weather in Illinois has been harsh this year. We have completed just one meet so far, and cancelled two. The one we did complete, we saw the temperature drop from almost 70 to under 40 during the 3 hour meet. We almost all froze.

So, here I stand, and I’m thinking about “How can I blog about St. Louis Family Fitness Weekend now?” An event I ran the weekend prior.

A couple hours before the meet, I sat down to write a glorious post about what will be one of my family’s great memories.  We had had a fantastic time. My wife, Cortny, and my youngest daughter, Madeline, had run the 5K on Saturday (April 6th). I had run the Half-marathon the following day.  My mother, sister, brother-in-law, and three nieces had all come up from Tennessee for some much needed family time, and to see us all run.  We had all been to the zoo and had spent an entire evening climbing and playing at the amazing City Museum (highly recommend it). It was, quite frankly, an awesome weekend.

If I’d been less of a procrastinator, that would have been the blog. You’d be reading now of a family adventure. I did procrastinate though, and as I had sat down to write…literally as I sat down…texts started coming in. Facebook lit up on my phone. I quickly turned on my TV.

There, on my TV, had been the exact images from our weekend before. Oh, it was a different city, and different folks, but it was the same. The finish line and spectators were set as mine had been the weekend before. The signs were raised to cheer on Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, etc. My family had been standing right there, right by the finish line, to see me come in.

The runners had shown up by the thousands, some for the first time and others for the 50th.  Some were there for a cause and others to prove it to themselves – all smiling.

So, I’m standing there a little stunned, and in a daydream, waiting out the weather with the team, and one of the kids says to me “So, Coach, you still gonna run?”

At first I didn’t get it, “What?”

“Now that they bombed the marathon? You still going to do that kind of stuff?” he asked.

“Dang Right I am!” I said with as big a smile as I could. “If anything, I am going to run further, and faster than before.”

At first he didn’t get it, “What, Coach?”

“Look, runners are the toughest, bravest, most dedicated people I have ever known. We aren’t easily taken down, and should never be counted out. The people I’ve run with will all be running harder, longer, faster.  Some bad guys inadvertently made us runners a symbol for our country, and put it on our shoulders.  They made a huge mistake.  We can haul the load….and we will.”

And as kids do, he responded “Cool.”    

The rain eventually subsided, and the track meet went on.

Chad Hannon
Coolibar Athlete

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