You’ve heard the advice about wearing sunscreen over and over. But would it mean a little more coming from someone who’s survived skin cancer at least 75 times?
Dennis Hassel enrolled in the U.S. Navy when he was in his 20s. Between work and play, he spent about half of every day outside, often without a shirt and always without sunscreen.
Hassel, now 81, estimates he’s had basal cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer, 75 to 100 times. The cancerous growths appear on his face, side, neck, arms, back and chest and often look like small red spots that bleed and don’t heal.
Hassel has an appointment every three months with a dermatologist at the University of Virginia Health System, where any new spots are evaluated. Treatment usually requires cutting out the suspicious spot and sending it to a lab to ensure the doctor removed all the cancer. Sometimes his dermatologist freezes off the spot or gives him a cream to use.
Hassel thinks the x-ray acne treatments he used to get contributed to his recurring cancer, but, “it was mostly the sun,” he says. “I can’t say enough about getting the word out to people who think they’re immune to the sun. They’re not.”
Beyond just remembering to wear sunscreen (Hassel now wears 100 SPF), what can you do to avoid skin cancer? UVA dermatologist Mark Russell recommends you:
– Apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before going outside.
– Reapply every 1-2 hours. Sunscreen can break down, wear off, wash off or sweat off.
– Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and make sure it hasn’t expired.
– Use about an ounce of sunscreen — the amount it takes to fill a shot glass — to cover your whole body.
– Stay in the shade when possible and avoid sun exposure during the hottest part of the day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
– Wear a wide-brimmed hat — not a baseball cap — that protects your neck and ears.
UVA dermatologists offer a free skin cancer screening every year. Currently, they’re also providing Coolibar hats to people who attend the screening and bring a less protective hat, like a baseball cap, to trade. Coolibar hats have the wide brims Dr. Russell recommends.
Photo: UVA Employee Kat modeling Coolibar hat used in hat swap program.
Choosing a sunscreen can be a daunting task, but it’s important to know how to choose reliable sun protection.
Jeff Bedard began his career in dermatology in 1984 and has spent the last 28 years developing and marketing some of the most innovative skin care solutions in the world. He’s the current CEO of Crown Laborieties, Inc., manufacturer of Blue Lizard sunscreen. Jeff answers common questions about Blue Lizard and sunscreen in general.
The FDA is telling sunscreen manufacturers to change their labels. Does Blue Lizard already meet the FDA’s new requirements for December 2012? What are these new requirements?
Blue Lizard is making only minor modifications to its current labels to be fully compliant. The biggest changes you will see on other labels is the removal of terms like “waterproof, sweatproof, all-day protection” along with the removal of the term “broad spectrum” protection unless the product has a critical wave length greater than 370 nm. Some other changes you will see are the alphabetical listing of inactive ingredients and additional warnings on the label.
How do your products rate on the EWG (Environmental Working Group) safety data base?
Since EWG has started rating sunscreens, we have always been listed in the top 10 sunscreens, available in the U.S. We have continued to innovate and formulate products that meet the highest safety standards, while providing the best protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Why don’t you carry anything higher than an SPF 30?
The reality is, if applied properly, an SPF 30+ sunscreen is all anyone needs. While higher SPF products provide slightly better protection (less than 1% in most cases), the trade-off is a formula with large amounts of chemical absorbers needed to reach levels of SPF 50 or greater. In most cases, this trade-off is not worth the benefit. Those ingredients, at those concentrations, can lead to allergic reactions and also negatively impact the cosmetic feel of the product. In the near future Crown Laboratories, Inc. will be introducing a higher SPF line that focuses on the active segment but without the pitfalls discussed above.
How do I know that the sunscreen is offering UVA protection as well as UVB?
Currently there are only three ingredients approved by the FDA that cover past the 370 nm baseline, needed to provide true broad-spectrum protection. Those are Avobenzone, Mexoryl and Zinc Oxide. If you want true broad spectrum protection, look for those active ingredients in your sunscreen of choice. In reality, however, make sure to ask if the product has been tested and has passed the UVA test showing coverage past 370 nm. Blue Lizard has and covers past 370 nm.
Most sunscreen burns my face, so I have to use fragrance free sensitive skin types on my arms & chest but cannot find a brand that does not burn sensitive facial skin. Any tips?
You are in luck, Blue Lizard Face is an oil free formula designed specifically for daily use on the face, neck and hands. It is formulated with Zinc Oxide and Octinoxate to provide SPF 30+ protection. It also contains three powerful antioxidants: Green Tea, Caffeine and Vitamin E. Hyaluronic Acid is also included in the Blue Lizard Face formula, which is a powerful humectant, keeping your skin moisturized. More importantly, is what Blue Lizard Face does not contain. It is paraben free, fragrance free and oil free. Used daily your face will see remarkable improvement in the fight against the signs of aging.
Is there a way to reduce the white residue some zinc based sunscreens leave behind?It can be especially bad when I’m running outside and I start to sweat.
Always apply sunscreen to dry skin prior to activity. If possible, massage the sunscreen into the skin and let the product absorb into the skin for at least 20 minutes prior to activity. When reapplying make sure the skin is dry and you have stopped perspiring prior to reapplication.
Are your products safe to use on babies/toddlers?
Our products are safe and effective for children above the age of 6 months. For children under 6 months you should always ask your physician.
Do your sunscreens contain nano-particles?If so, is this a concern?
Nano-particles seem to be a hot button of late. There is no credible scientific evidence that should raise a concern regarding these particles. Blue Lizard uses micronized Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. These particles are coated to allow even dispersion on the skin, which provides superior protection without the white residue.
What are the most effective sunscreen components/things to look for in a sunscreen?
The best sunscreens are those that provide a physical barrier from the sun while also staying on the skin during activity. Look for sunscreens that have passed UVA testing and that are free of ingredients that can cause allergic reactions.
Do your products use chemical sunscreen filters or only physical?
Our Sensitive and Baby formulas are physical protection only (Zinc and Titanium), while the Regular, Sport and Face are a combination of physical and chemical absorbers.
What makes Blue Lizard different from other sunscreen?
Blue Lizard has stayed true to its heritage by providing Australian grade sun protection. Australia’s standards of water resistance and UVA protection lead the world. Blue Lizard uses patented active minerals to provide the best natural reflective protection available. We also test our products for 240 minutes in whirlpooled water to ensure they stay on during activity.
Blue Lizard was a joint venture between Premium Pharmaceuticals (Sydney, Australia) and Crown Laboratories, Inc. (Johnson City, TN) that began in 1998. The company set out to change the way people, at risk of skin cancer, protected their skin from harmful UV exposure. All of the research, development and manufacturing is now done in Crown’s 180,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in TN.
Mother Jesse Michener of Tacoma, WA walked into her home after work on June 19th to find her two daughters had both severely sunburned that day while at school.
Michener’s daughters Violet, 11, and Zoe, 9, had spent the day outdoors for a school field day. While it rained in the morning, by noon the sun was out and students rushed outside to play. Being under the mid-day sun, when the sun is strongest, the girls began to burn.
Horrified, Michener immediately marched into the principal’s office only to learn that the school cannot allow sunscreen use on students due to a statewide policy and for liability reasons. The same policy exists in 49 states –preventing most students from applying sunscreen at school. The law exists due to the additives in lotions and sunscreens that can potentially cause allergic reactions and sunscreens are regulated by the FDA as an over-the-counter drug. Exception is only granted with a written physician’s note. At the moment, California is the only state that allows students to apply sunscreen at school without doctor approval.
Michener’s daughter Zoe is extremely sensitive to sun due to a form of albinism. Even though school staff were aware of Zoe’s condition, she still was not allowed to use sunscreen.
Michener, outraged by this policy, wrote a post on her photography blog expressing her concern and placing her girl’s sunburn photos at the top (pictured above). Michener writes, “The practice of a blanket policy which clearly allows for students to be put in harm’s way is deeply flawed. Not only does a parent have to take an unrealistic step by visiting a doctor for a ‘prescription’ for an over-the-counter product, children are not allowed to carry it on their person and apply as needed… Something as simple as a sun hat might seem to bypass the prescription issue to some extent. Alas, hats are not allowed at school, even on field day!”
Since Michener posted, this policy has received attention from media outlets across the nation, including the Today Show on NBC. Schools also have started discussing the current sunscreen/over-the-counter drug policy, and begun pushing revisions.
What would you have done? Share your thoughts about sunscreen use in schools on our Facebook page!
Every year, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) sponsors a week of fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing, arts and crafts, and just plain fun for youth with chronic skin conditions. Under the expert care of dermatologists and nurses, Camp Discovery offers campers the opportunity to spend a week among other young people who have similar skin conditions. Many of the counselors have skin conditions as well, and can provide support and advice to campers.
The impact this summer program has on youth can be felt in some of the powerful quotes that have come from campers over the years. One camper exclaims, “I fit in at camp more than anywhere else on earth. Camp is my heaven on earth.” Another camper says, “Camp has been an eye opening experience that has shown me how wonderful people are no matter how bad their skin disorder.”
Many of the campers are photosensitive or allergic to the sun due to either their conditions or medications. Sun protection is a necessity as a majority of camp activities take place outdoors during peak hours of sunlight.
Coolibar, a Minnesota based sun protective clothing company, will be visiting Camp Little Pine, one of six AAD Camp Discovery locations, this Monday. Coolibar volunteers will attend camp to pass out sun hats, UPF 50 swim shirts and UV goggles to the 60 children in attendance at the Crosslake location. Coolibar also donated sun protective hats to all Camp Discovery locations for sun protection donations totaling almost $12,000.
John Barrow, president and founder of Coolibar, states, “Coolibar is honored to provide sun hats to the children at Camp Discovery so that every child can enjoy camp the way it was meant to be! We want to be sure everyone can get outside and safely play in the sun.”
Did you know Coolibar employees are some of our best customers? After receiving our shipment of new Wide Leg Pants for women, a number of the Coolibar ladies immediately snatched them up. Now, Coolibar employees Heather, Jennifer and Julie share their thoughts on these comfy UPF 50+ pants. They also share some pictures showing how they style the pant.
Coolibar Wide Leg Pant
– Smooth fold knit waistband
– No-squeeze top keeps pant comfortably in place
– Wide leg (12″ opening on bottom)
– Lightweight and breathable
– Drapes effortlessly
– Silky soft aire SUNTECT® polyester/spandex blend
– Rated UPF 50+
“I love my Coolibar Wide Leg Pants! I was in New York last April and searched the city over for a pair of brightly colored wide leg pants just like this, with no luck. I found a few but they didn’t fit right, the color was wrong or they were way too expensive. Lucky for me, I found them right here at Coolibar. I love these pants because the fold top waistband is flattering, they are amazingly comfortable, they’re silky-smooth and are extremely light weight. They have easily become my go to pants that I put on after work or for a Saturday afternoon in the city.” – Jennifer
“I love the new Coolibar wide leg pant, because it can be dressed up or down. Yesterday I wore them lounging in the humid MN weather and the pants kept me cool. The fabric is amazing and very soft! Pictured is my beach look. When I go to the beach I like to be covered up with layers that can be taken off when I go swimming. Thanks to these pants, I don’t have to apply sunscreen every time I get out of the water.” – Heather
“The wide leg pants are so comfortable! I love the lightweight silky material and the yoga inspired fold waist. I pair my pants with a lightweight tank top for a day time look, and throw over a jacket for going out at night. This is my go-to pant for the summer!” – Julie
Summer solstice, the day with the longest amount of sunlight this year is Wednesday, June 20. Summer solstice is significant for scientists and religions alike, it’s a day tied to solar phenomena and community celebrations.
Carolyn Sumners, vice president of astronomy and the physical sciences at the Houston Museum of Natural Science provides a scientific explanation of summer solstice on Chron.com. “The earth is always tilted on its axis at 23½ degrees,” says Sumners. It orbits around the sun in that position – and in the Northern Hemisphere, when that tilt leans most toward the sun it’s the summer solstice.
The historical significance of summer solstice goes far back. Ancient Egyptians would wait for the Nile’s flooding season beginning summer solstice, for the floods provided fertile soil for farming. The Incas began the tradition of Inti Raymi, the multiday Festival of the Sun, which is still celebrated by tourists and natives of South America every year on June 24 (around the time of summer solstice). Even the Olympic Games in Greece were specifically scheduled to commence once summer solstice ended.
Today, summer solstice is still celebrated around the world. In the UK, thousands gather at Stonehenge to witness the solstice sunrise –the moment when the sun completely aligns with the outer Heel Stone.
In the United States, a simple Google search of “summer solstice festival (state name)” will show a list of cities and towns celebrating this day with parades, festivals, music, games and athletic events.
To all of us at Coolibar, it’s a day to remind others about healthy sunny living. We, like most, love to be outdoors, and summer solstice is a day to celebrate. While the sun is extra strong, for an extra long time, remember to be SunAWARE, and keep your UPF 50 clothing, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen on hand.
Celebrate summer with a family barbecue, a trip to the beach or a long bike ride.
How do you to take advantage of the longest, most sun filled day of the year? Let us know what summer means to you on Facebook or by commenting below!
Packing for yourself and your family can be the most difficult part of a summer vacation, but with a few tips from lifestyle expert Jamie Krell, you’ll know exactly what to bring for stress-free travel.
Have you heard of a mom’s unborn child saving her life? Erica’s daughter Caroline did just that (both pictured to left). Read Erica’s story and how her daughter may just have saved her from Melanoma.
My name is Erica. I am a daughter, granddaughter, wife and mother. Although having my child at the age of 22 was not in my immediate plans, I often say that if it wasn’t for my strong-willed, red-headed little girl I may not have been here to make plans. I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason and am at complete peace with the bumpy ride I am still on regarding my skin. This is a short version of my journey with melanoma thus far.
Two months after my 22nd birthday I had a six month OBGYN appointment. I always saw a midwife but on this particular day I saw the actual OB and I was wearing shorts, something I rarely did while I was pregnant. He took one look at a spot on my thigh and suggested I see my primary care doctor immediately to have it checked out. This mole had been on my leg for about two years and although it was ugly it was just one of those things I kept putting off getting checked. It was not important to me, after all what could it have been? Just an ugly, unattractive spot I could get taken off for cosmetic reasons? My general practitioner believed it to be nothing but still removed it for further testing. Initially, I was told that it was severely dysplastic and I was sitting on the door step of melanoma. After further evaluation from the pathologist it was confirmed that I indeed had a .68 mm stage 1 melanoma that showed signs of regression.
When I got the news that I had melanoma it truly didn’t hit me that this was a very serious condition. When I got the call from the doctor that I needed to go in that morning I went by myself and was not the slightest bit nervous. I vividly remember the nurse hugging me and telling me that all would be o.k. and I would still be here for my daughter. It was at that point that I broke down crying in the office, hugging a stranger trying to get a good grip on the fact that I not only had cancer but I had the deadliest form of skin cancer.
After that things started moving very fast. I was scheduled immediately for a WLE (wide local excision) and a lymph node biopsy because I had some issues with them around the time the mole originally appeared. Being that I was pregnant, the lymph node biopsy had to wait until my little girl was around seven weeks old. The WLE resulted in clear margins and there was no signs of melanoma in my lymph nodes once they were checked. All was fine until roughly seven months later when another melanoma was found in my groin region. Thankfully that one was an in situ which is essentially stage 0 and is not invasive. Several other biopsies were taken as a precautionary measure which has left me with several keloids scattered around my body. Since then I have had a nevus with pre-cancerous cells which was taken care of with a WLE. I am also currently awaiting results on another biopsy.
One of the biggest questions I get asked about my personal experience with melanoma is how did I get it. When I was sixteen I began going to the tanning bed. As a teenager and even during my collage years I didn’t do the typical rebellious things such as drinking, partying, etc. I was a homebody, an honor student, the type of person who chose to go to bed at 9 on a Friday night. Little did I know, the one activity I was partaking in to make me feel good about myself and boost my self-confidence was the number one thing that could have very easily robbed me of my life. I would tan a couple times a week, use the hottest tanning lotions and tan for about 15-20 minutes at a time. What I didn’t know is each and every time I would lay in a tanning bed I was engaging in risky behavior that could have been fatal. During my tanning years I heard of melanoma and even saw pictures but I always brushed it off as something that would not happen to me or happen many years down the road when I was “old”. I have since found out that skin cancer also runs on my paternal side of the family, something I had no idea about at the time. Unfortunately, ignorance truly is bliss.
In the past two years I have became very educated when it comes to melanoma. I have read and reread the facts, told anyone and everyone who will listen about my story and have became very vigilant with my skin checks. I see my dermatologist every three months and we check and reevaluate areas of concern. My little girl will forever be at a higher risk given my history so sunscreen, monitoring her skin and keeping her safe from the sun is of utmost importance to me. I am also learning to embrace my once tan body that is now a body full of scars, keloids and regularly appearing nevi. If I was to never get another melanoma it would not mean that it is totally over. It would simply mean that there is NED (no evidence of disease). Melanoma education, prevention and awareness will forever play a big role in my life!
For those of you that don’t know me, and am I sure there are a few, I am Chad Grigsby and I am a professional angler on the FLW Tour – the PGA circuit of bass fishing. I have had the fortune of competing professionally full time for 10 years. That’s right, I fish for a living. I live in Maple Grove, MN, am married to Bridget and have two daughters – Isabelle, who is 4 and Avrey who is 2.
This year the season kicked off in January on Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, FL. Okeechobee is one of my favorite lakes, as I tend to do well competitively there; however, this year wasn’t my best performance- I finished 58 out of 164- but I am excited to go back and won’t complain about being in the Florida sun in January. (Photo: Me in a Coolibar long sleeve protecting me from the Florida sun during practice).
Next I was off to Lake Hartwell in Columbia, SC where I struggled again and finished 120…on to Table Rock in Branson, MO where I finally cracked the top 50! (Photo: Me with my largest bass from Table Rock before weigh in with Isabelle, Coolibar shirt underneath the jersey – amazing that the long sleeves keep you cool and dry when fishing all day in 85 degree weather).
After Table Rock, I was able to head to Scottsdale, AZ with my family, where we celebrated Easter and had fun in the sun! (Photo: My daughter Isabelle after her Easter Egg Hunt wearing a kids Coolibar zip up to protect her Irish skin from the sun rays!)
Next up Beaver Lake in Rogers, AR, which is also a favorite of mine for a couple of reasons. I tend to do well there and that is where I met my wife (I am originally from Michigan- Go Big Blue!).
Well, I will check in again after Beaver, hopefully with a great story of my fantastic performance.
Jennifer Annett is the Integrated Marketing Manager for Coolibar. She talks about her experience in the surprising advantage of long sleeves.
Summer is usually a time for barely there clothing; it’s hot outside and most people tend to wear shorter clothing to keep cool. I on the other hand, have actually worn long sleeves and long pants during the summer to protect my skin from UV rays. Does it get hot, yes, but I was confident that I was protecting myself.
I have fair skin, strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. In my lifetime I have had more sun burns than I can count. So, it would make sense that a person like me would work for a sun protective clothing company. And now, after almost 6 years of learning about the dangers of UV, I not only want to stop sunburn, I want to prevent wrinkles, aging and skin cancer and sun protective clothing is the easiest most guaranteed way to get UV protection.
Needless to say, I am a Coolibar fan! I purchase many of our garments, I have a Coolibar hat for every occasion and I give Sun Protection You Wear as gifts to my friends and family. I believe in our products, however, until recently, I struggled with the perception that long sleeves will make me hot. Old habits die hard and when the temperature soars, my first inclination is to put on a tank top and shorts, even though my fair skin requires protection.
Prior to the holiday weekend, I had read a blog post called Why I Don’t Wear Sunscreen and was reminded how other cultures adapt to hot sunny conditions. Most people are covered and you don’t see many tank tops in the desert. According to the author’s Egyptian guide, “Exposing skin will get you burnt, and you’ll be hotter.”
This article was on my mind last weekend when temperatures reached 90 degrees with high humidity. I was meeting my friend for a walk at 11am, which is during peek UV exposure. I decided I was going to do an experiment and pulled out my trusty Coolibar jacket (zipped to the top) and paired it with my favorite walking pants. I added my Coolibar visor and sunglasses and applied sunscreen only to my face and hands. I envisioned that I was wearing special anti-aging armor, and after an hour, I still felt really comfortable. My girlfriend, on the other hand, was melting. She wore a tank top.
Let’s face it, when the weather is that hot, you are going to sweat. You might as well protect your skin and feel cooler since the sun won’t be in direct contact with your skin. I have a renewed faith in the ability of Coolibar products to help keep me cool and protected.