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FDA Updates Sunscreen Regulations

Sunscreen Label Changes

In case you haven’t heard, on Tuesday, June 14, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new guidelines that sunscreen manufacturers will be required to follow for sunscreen labeling in order to help protect consumers from skin damage caused by sun exposure. Beginning summer 2012 the new rules dictate that in order to earn a “broad spectrum” designation, sunscreens must protect from both UVB rays, which cause burning, and UVA rays, which cause wrinkles.

 

New FDA Sunscreen Guidelines

Here’s what you need to know about the new Broad-Spectrum labeling.  An example of the new FDA label is pictured above.

 

  • Established standards have been set for testing the effectiveness of over-the-counter sunscreens and will be labeled as “Broad- Spectrum” according to the test results.
  • A certain percentage of a broad-spectrum product’s total protection is against UVA.
  • If a sunscreen is labeled as both “Broad-Spectrum” and “SPF 15” (or higher) it can claim to protect against sunburn and if used as directed, can help reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.
  • The familiar “Drug Facts” box found on most OTC drugs will be required.
  • Any sunscreen not labeled as “Broad-Spectrum” or that has an SPF value between 2 and 14, has only been shown to help prevent sunburn.
  • Sunscreens that are not broad-spectrum or that are broad-spectrum with SPF values less than 15 will be labeled with a warning that reads: “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert:  Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
  • No “waterproof,” “sweatproof” or “sunblock” labeling.  Water resistant labeling is allowed with SPF effectiveness times of only 40 or 80 minutes.
  • Sunscreens cannot claim protection immediately upon application (instant protection) or for more than 2 hours without reapplication, unless they submit data and get approval from FDA.
  • The FDA is proposing that the maximum SPF value on labeling is SPF 50+.
  • The agency currently considers wipes, towelettes, powders, body washes, and shampoo not eligible for the monograph. Therefore, they cannot be marketed without an approved application.


Guaranteed Broad-Spectrum Sunscreens from Coolibar

Hooray to the FDA for finally making these necessary improvements to sunscreen labeling.  If, however, the new guidelines seem overwhelmingly complex, let Coolibar take the guesswork out of your next sunscreen purchase.  Our merchandising team has researched and tested the best sunscreens on the market.  As always, we offer only broad-spectrum sunscreens with at least an SPF of 30 or higher.  You can trust that any sunscreen you purchase from Coolibar will provide both UVA and UVB protection; you have our word on it.  And when combined with a hat, Coolibar clothing and sunglasses, you’re equipped for all day, worry-free UV protection.


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New Products Sun Protection Clothing What our customers say

3D dri SUNTECT – Coolibar’s “Coolest” New Fabric

Scott Boating

3D dri SUNTECT®, one of Coolibar’s latest innovative fabrics, does more than offer UPF 50+ sun protection. It’s a performance fabric that uses tiny grid patterns to prevent this lightweight polyester fabric from sticking to the skin, enhancing breathability and moisture-wicking effectiveness.

Coolibar customer, Scott Eisen (pictured to the left) has always enjoyed boating and fishing and loves to hit open waters where the sun’s rays reflect off the water’s surface, intensifying UV exposure. After spending some time out in the boat on a hot sunny day in his new Coolibar Sunblock Hoodie, Scott decided to share a few thoughts on the garment’s design and Coolibar’s new 3D dri SUNTECT® material.

 “Great material, very lightweight … and good to use even when it’s hot outside,” says Scott referring to the Sunblock Hoodie. “The hood is a great feature as well. I also like the white color and the vents that are in the sides that let air in to cool me.”

We asked Scott to tell us the overall comfort level of the fabric (ranging from 10 great to 0 horrible). His response – a 10! “The 3D dri SUNTECT® fabric is very soft and very light. You don’t notice that you’re wearing anything.” Scott repeats, “The fabric keeps you cool because you don’t feel that you’re wearing it, yet it blocks the sun. And it does not stick to your skin at all!”

“My favorite feature of the fabric is how light it is. The fabric has no downsides. The garment itself is a bit tight around my torso when putting it on, but once it is positioned properly it’s not tight at all,” says Scott. We also asked Scott if he would recommend this garment to a friend and he said, “Yes, absolutely.”

The Coolibar Sunblock Jacket, another one of Coolibar’s new 3D dri SUNTECT® garments, was recently featured in Antenna Magazine, the first mainstream magazine to target individuals who are on a constant quest for the newest and coolest products on the horizon.

Antenna Mag - Summer 2011SUNTECT® Sun Protective Clothing for Men

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SUNTECT® Sun Protective Clothing for Women

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Shop Coolibar

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Sun Protection Clothing

Vacation Without the Burn

Before Jennifer’s recent trip to Hawaii, she packed her sun hats, sun protective clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses in order to avoid bringing back a flamboyant red tone as a souvenir. So, did her pre-planning help her avoid a painful situation? 

For the first time in my life I returned from a sunny vacation without a single sunburn!  The idea that this fair skinned, red haired woman can spend a week in sunny Hawaii and not get burned is a new concept for me.  I’ve spent countless hours in the sun with my darker complected friends only to contend with the pain of sunburn in the places I missed with sunscreen or in some instances a full out sunburn from not re-applying sunscreen at all (having too much fun to stop and re-apply) .  Terms like lobster and tomato have been used to describe my skin’s reddish hue after a day on the beach…and I felt like a fool when I changed for dinner and my cute new sundress was overshadowed by my flaming skin!

I’m a proud 5 year Coolibar employee.  When I was interviewing with the company, I remember thinking, “I don’t get it, isn’t all clothing sun protective?”  I’ve since learned that not all clothing is equal in its ability to protect from the sun, plus it doesn’t matter if you’re not willing to wear it.  So now, thanks to Coolibar, I’ve got my arsenal of UPF 50+ hats, swimwear, clothing, sunglasses, and dermatologist recommended sunscreen.  I can spend endless hours in the sun, feeling glamorous, in my Coolibar stuff and I don’t have to worry about sunburn, skin cancer or wrinkles.  I say, bring on the sun, I’m ready for it!  I heart my Coolibar!

Jennifer

Coolibar Employee

Jennifer’s vacation items from Coolibar included: Shapeable Poolside Sun Hat (pictured above), Short Sleeve Swim Shirt and Swim Skirt with Shorts (pictured on boat), Avalon Bucket Hat (pictured in car and boat), and Cotz SPF 58 sunscreen (not pictured).

Jen and Ren under an umbrella
Jen and Ren seeking shade
Jen Boating
Jen Boating in her Swim Shirt and Avalon Hat
Jen driving top down
Jen driving top down in her Avalon Hat
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Inside Coolibar Sun Protection Clothing SunAWARE

Make Sure Dad is Covered This Father’s Day

If dad loves to spend time fishing, golfing, biking or participating in any outdoor activity, you may want to consider giving him the gift of sun protective clothing this Father’s Day. It not only will keep him cooler and more comfortable than if his skin was directly exposed to the sun,  but it will protect him from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation says, “The sun’s UV radiation is associated with about 90 percent of all skin cancers.” Men over age 40 spend the most time outdoors and have the highest annual exposure to ultraviolet radiation. And the majority of people diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, are white men over age 50, states the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Middle-aged and older men often don’t perform self skin exams or regularly visit a dermatologist, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Thus, they are the least likely individuals to detect melanoma in its early stages. Encouragement from family members is essential when convincing Dad of the importance of sun protection and early detection. Father’s Day is the perfect time to give your dad the gift of sun protection to show him how much you care. 

We asked our Dads at Coolibar what their favorite sun protection item is so we could pass their recommendations onto you. They gave the following sun protective shirts and hats two thumbs up!

Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing

Swim Shirt

“When coming out of the water on a hot day the shirt keeps me cool even in the sun. Plus it reduces the need for sunscreen.” –Lu

Convertible Polo

“The Convertible Golf Polo is the lightest and softest polo shirt I have ever owned. It stretches when I move and keeps me as cool as most T-shirts.” –Ben

Travel Shirt

“It has great light fabric and nice big pockets for passport and other documents. For my photo shoots in sunny FL & CA, I packed 5 travel shirts. I use the triple collar all the time to protect my neck.”  –Lu

Long-Sleeve Polo

“I have one of these with me in my suitcase at all times.  It’s very comfortable, very protective, and is great for traveling.”  –John

Coolibar Sun Hats

Featherweight Bucket Hat

“It is extremely lightweight and packable so I carry one with me in my bag all of the time.  It’s very protective with a nice curved brim and a navy under-brim to absorb reflected UV.  And if it gets windy I can use the draw string to make sure it doesn’t blow off, normally I tuck this up into the hat.”         –John

Packable Fedora

“This is a great value, classic style, and allows you to wear a fedora without worrying about crushing it when you take it off. Especially great on a winter vacation to the south – you can pack it way so you don’t look out of place in the Minneapolis, MN airport in the middle of February wearing a straw hat!” –Michael  

Shapeable Outback Hat

“It’s perfect for landscaping work, and is extremely durable and rugged.” – Alan

Don’t forget Sunscreen and Sunglasses for Dad too!

Have a SunAWARE Father’s Day!

–Coolibar

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Sun Protection Clothing What's Hot

What is Your Coolibar Beach Style?

Answer 10 simple questions to determine your ideal Coolibar beach look, because there is no need to give up your style to get reliable sun protection!

Is your style Sporty? Timeless? Glamorous? Smart?

The answer is below!

  

  

Scroll down to see your Coolibar beach style.

Swim & Surf Chic (Sporty Style)

If your first mission is to hit the water once the waves are in sight, then you’ll need an ensemble that works as hard as you work the water (and is stylish of course!) Coolibar suggests: Swim Jacket, Swim Tights, Chlorine Resistant Hat, UV Swim Goggles and All Terrain Aqua Sport SPF 30 Sunscreen

 

Shoreline Meanderer (Classic Timeless Style)

If your plan includes meandering through shops or dining seaside, you’ll probably want something with a little more coverage and style. Coolibar suggests: Sun Sarong, ZnO Sun Wrap, Tropicana Sun Hat, Mixed Pearl Necklace, Mykonos Sunglasses and Colorscience SPF 30 Powder Makeup

Lounging Lady (Glamorous Style)

If your ideal day at the beach or poolside is sitting under a parasol, reading a book and only moving to grab and sip of your pink lemonade every so often, then you’ll want sun wear to make your day as comfortable and relaxed as possible while still keeping your sense of style in mind!  Coolibar suggests: ZnO Sarasota Beach Cover Up, Ruche Swim Shirt, Shapeable Poolside Sun Hat, Cookie Sunglasses and Body Cotz SPF 35 Sunscreen

Active Chic (Smart Style)

You never know what a day at the beach will bring for you and your spontaneous nature. You go for simple, versatile and carefree looks you can throw on in an instant at the beach for some sand volleyball or reading your favorite magazine. You may even wade in the water from time to time. Coolibar suggests: Beach Shirt, ZnO Beach Pants, Marina Sun Hat, Patrol Sunglasses, Stone and Leather Cuff and Soleo Organics SPF 30 Sunscreen

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Expert Rx Routinely Check Skin SunAWARE Videos

The Importance of SKIN CHECKS (Video)

Hi, this is Dr. Davis for Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing.

As a dermatologist, I wanted to outline why it is important to get SKIN CHECKS. The advice varies per individual. It really depends on what kind of skin you have. If you are exceptionally fair vs. exceptionally dark there aren’t straight across the board recommendations for what you need. However, at least once in your life, preferably not too far past your 20’s get a good Full Body Skin Check so at least we can map out areas that are potentially warranting a little closer observation versus things we know will never be trouble. 

For people who’ve had skin cancer we say once a year for sure, timed with your general physical. For people who’ve never had a skin cancer, maybe once every couple of years or as something crops up. If you have something that is not healing or bleeding or changing color or growing or something that generally gets your attention even if it just itches. Bring that to our attention or at least bring it to the attention of your primary care doctor so that they can help determine if you need a dermatologist to see that (spot). Skin cancer can look so different in different people and even the same skin cancer looks different and it takes a dermatologist sometimes to really be able to tell you if that lesion is of concern or not. 

The guidelines are the ABCD’s of Melanoma. We’ve all heard of those. So if something is asymmetric, or the boarder is irregular, or the color is of concern to you, an espresso brown, or the diameter is simply growing. And certainly if it were bleeding or itching or otherwise bothering you come and have us give it a check. 

If those things are not happening schedule that baseline exam so we can take one good look over and then we can plan our skin care from there. 

Be skin safe, be SunAWARE! 

Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.

Skin Check
ABCD's of Melanoma
 
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SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Stay Out of the Sun Run 2011

On May 20, 2011, the Stay Out of the Sun Run (SOSR) Foundation held their 6th annual walk/race in Rochester, MN to promote awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and support melanoma research and education.  All proceeds from the SOSR are donated to the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center for melanoma research and education. Coolibar was there to contribute to the run for the 5th consecutive year.

The founder of the SOSR, Tim Burriss, a Melanoma survivor, started the run to benefit melanoma research and education. He states that this year’s run had a record number of registered participants, 934! The most they’ve ever had. Not even the dreary, rainy weather before the event kept people away.

So far, not counting this year’s totals, the run has raised over $120,000 to help Mayo Clinic fight melanoma. Tim says, “Melanoma has had such an impact on so many individuals and families and we realize we cannot be content but must continue our fight!”

Skin cancer education and prevention is so important, especially with summer almost being here. So this Don’t Fry Day, May 27, Coolibar wishes to remind everyone to be SunAWARE and protect yourself from the sun.

Avoid unprotected sun exposure; Wear sun-protective clothing, wide brim hat (3” brim or greater), and UV sunglasses; Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every two hours while in sun; Routinely check your whole body for changes in your skin; Educate your family and community about sun protection.

Perhaps even join a fundraising or educational effort like the SOSR in your area and help support the need for sun protection!


Video footage of the Stay Out of the Sun Run and melanoma survivor feature from NBC Rochester local news

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Congrats to our Coolibar team members who walked and participated in the 5K at the SOSR! You all looked spectacular in your Coolibar sun protection clothing!

Learn more about Skin Cancer and Melanoma from the American Academy of Dermatology

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Success Stories SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Cindy Combats Basal Cell Carcinoma

One day, out of the blue, Cindy found a suspicious spot of skin on her nose. This spot ended up being Basal Cell Carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, which affects almost two million Americans each year according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Cindy shares her story to remind us of the importance of being SunAWARE.

Cindy’s Story

I was a 48-year-old sun worshipper when I discovered a flake of skin on my nose that would not heal. It appeared to be just a piece of dry skin until I washed my face one day and the spot began to bleed.

I made an appointment with my dermatologist and she took a biopsy. I returned a week later to have the stitches taken out and told her that the spot that flaked was not exactly on the spot that she biopsied. The biopsy came back negative and she assured me that if there was cancer it would have shown up on the test results.

I returned to her a year later complaining the spot was bigger and continued to flake. This time she froze the area. I waited 6 months and returned insisting on another biopsy – in the correct spot. This time it came back positive for basal cell. She apologized admitting she had taken a biopsy the first time from a wrong area. I was scheduled for a Mohs procedure and flap repair with a plastic surgeon. I realized then I had to be my own best advocate!

I stopped sitting in the sun without sunscreen and a hat. However; five years later I was diagnosed with a second basal cell carcinoma. Again, the only indication I had was a flaky spot on the side of my nose that just would not completely heal up. And again, I was scheduled for Mohs procedure and flap repair.

My Doctor states that once diagnosed with basal cell skin cancer you are more likely to have a reoccurrence.  Now I won’t leave the house without a hat. I also wear a sunscreen of SPF 46 and make-up with sunscreen.

My younger brother was diagnosed and treated for melanoma when he was only 38-years-old. He had a mole on his back that surgeons stated were sure had been there all his life. He is now 16 years cancer free! He is very cautious about being in the sun and always wears long sleeves and sunscreen!

My advice to you is to be safe while you are in the sun, protect yourself.  Check your skin for changes and be your own best advocate.  Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.  Save yourself from having to going through what I have. 

Cindy After Mohs Surgery
Cindy after Mohs surgery
Cindy After Stitches Were Removed
Cindy after stitches removed
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Sunscreens and Lotions

Total Block and Cotz Sunscreen FAQ

Fallene Products

Coolibar asked sunscreen expert Kirk Minster from Fallene, Ltd., the maker of Total Block and Cotz Sunblock products, to host a Q & A session on the Coolibar Facebook page. With over six years of experience at Fallene, Kirk had plenty of valuable sunscreen information to pass on. Here is a brief recap of the session.

I have had skin cancer surgery on my nose and have been trying hard to use sunscreen every day. One problem that I have is taking sunscreen wherever I go, to reapply every two hours. I would love to have an option of single application containers (or towels, if that could be possible) that I could pop in my pocket or purse and not have to worry about it leaking and getting on everything. Does anything like this exist?

Convenience is always an issue with sunscreen, but unfortunately, anything that is either a spray or a moist towel is going to have chemical sunscreen filters only, no titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, the two ingredients that will give you the best broad spectrum photo stable protection. That said, for your nose I would use LipCotz SPF 45. This is in a small portable tube that will fit in your purse or your pocket. It is not only great for your lips, but it can be applied to your nose and ears as well. Finally, all of the Cotz products are in tubes with secure twist tops so the risk of any opening and ruining a purse is next to zero.

How do your products rate on the skin deep cosmetic safety data base?

All of the ingredients are FDA approved and have been in use for decades. As the Cotz line has evolved, we have taken great pains to limit the number of ingredients while providing products that give the best broad spectrum ( both UVA and UVB light) best photo-stable (this means the product does not break down when exposed to sun light, a common problem with chemical sunscreen filters) possible.

Fallene’s products are not safe because I am telling you they are, though I am giving you this assurance. They are safe because years of study into the active and inactive ingredients by competent, well respected scientists have determined they are safe for use on the skin.

Here you will find the report the TGA released in 2009 regarding nano TiO2 and ZO http://www.tga.gov.au/safety/alerts-medicine-sunscreens-051202.htm#nano

I think you will find the TGA report compelling. With hope the FDA will release a monograph for the UVA spectrum of light in 2011 so that consumers will have some way to gage the effectiveness of their sunscreen against the deeper penetrating UVA light.

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?

Try the Cotz SPF 35 Zinc only, we made it for you and all those with very sensitive skin. Also, the Face Cotz SPF 40 is great for sensitive skin and is very silky to the touch, so it will feel light and smooth on the surface of your face.

For the active ingredients, you have a sunscreen with both Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, and then one with just Zinc Oxide. Why is this?

Part of the answer reflects Fallene’s evolution as a sunscreen company, part of the reason resides in the intended function. Total Block 65 and Total Block 60 are older products. Total Block 60 is a makeup cover-up. Total Block 65 is a sunscreen that is designed to be non-comedogenic. Non-comedogenic simply means it will not cause the user to break out with blemishes. Over a decade ago when both TB 60 and TB 65 were formulated, the best way to get a non-comedogenic sunscreen with superior protection and a focus on high SPF was to use both chemical and physical actives.

As Fallene, Ltd. evolved, more recent product, in particular the Cotz SPF 35 20% zinc reflects a less is more approach. With only 20% zinc as an active, it exposes the user to as few potentially irritating ingredients as possible, still gives adequate protection from UVB with an SPF 35 (Experts suggest SPF 30 is enough, anything more is probably more than you need) plus great protection from UVA as well.

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.

I suggest the FaceCotz SPF 45 for you in combination with the Cotz SPF 35 20% zinc. Use the Face Cotz on your face as you might have guessed and the Cotz 20% zinc everywhere you have exposed skin. You will find both free of that white residue and both are water resistant. The FaceCotz is very water resistant so will give excellent sweat resistant protection for your face.

Are your products safe to use on babies/toddlers?

For children 6 months and older, I recommend the Cotz products. In particular, the Cotz 20% Zinc only.

Do your sunscreens contain nano-particles? If so, is this a concern?

The titanium and zinc in our products is technically micronized. I know much has been made of nano particle/ nano technology in the past few years. This year, for the first time, the subject was researched by dermatologists so that they could make recommendations to other dermatologists. What this report said is what numerous previous studies concluded, micronized titanium and zinc are safe for use in functional cosmetics.

The Environmental Working Group is a good source of information on this topic.

Chemical sunscreen absorbers by definition absorb into the skin. Physical protection, titanium and zinc, rest on the surface of the skin. Studies by the European Union, the FDA, and the Australian Regulatory agency called the TGA, all show that micronized titanium and zinc will not absorb through the outer layers of skin, into deeper layers of skin.

Take a look at this link: http://www.tga.gov.au/safety/alerts-medicine-sunscreens-051202.htm#nano

This is an excerpt from the TGA website; the TGA is the Australian equivalent of our FDA and has rigorously studied nano particles in sunscreen. Here is what they have to say: In early 2009, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) conducted an updated review of the scientific literature in relation to the use of nanoparticulate zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreens (see below).

The TGA review concluded that:

-The potential for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens to cause adverse effects depends primarily upon the ability of the nanoparticles to reach viable skin cells; and

-To date, the current weight of evidence suggests that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles do not reach viable skin cells; rather, they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer of the skin that is composed of non-viable cells.

For the full TGA report on the safety of Titanium and Zinc, please use this link: http://www.tga.gov.au/safety/alerts-medicine-sunscreens-051202.htm#nano. The report confirms that all research thus far shows these ingredients to be safe and the best protection from the sun.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is well respected. They have paid such close attention to this topic because Australia is the perennial front runner in cases of skin cancer per capita. They want to know what works to help prevent skin cancer but are also concerned with safety. The link above will take you to the full report on nano particle titanium and zinc that can be downloaded as a PDF.

Why is there tint in some of your sunscreen? I found this out after purchasing and using it in Hawaii.

The tint is the iron oxide that we use in Cotz SPF 58. Iron Oxide is as common ingredient in makeup that has been used as a color agent for decades. In Cotz SPF58, the Iron Oxide acts to offset the whitening effect of the Titanium and Zinc. Although it is not an FDA approved active sunscreen ingredient, studies show that the small iron particles also act as good protection high up in the UVA range of light, near the visible light range. Cotz 20% Zinc SPF 35 which has no tint.

What are the most effective sunscreen components/things to look for in a sunscreen?

Look for two key ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These FDA recognized active sunscreen ingredients are the best broad spectrum and photo-stable (will not break down when exposed to light) so will provide the best protection.

Do your products use chemical sunscreen filters or only physical?

The entire Cotz line with four different products in all is physical protection only, no chemical sunscreens. The older Total Block products, around for more than a decade now, combine chemical and physical FDA approved active sunscreen ingredients.

What is the difference between your Cotz brand and Total Block brand?

Cotz is chemical sunscreen filter free using just titanium dioxide, and or zinc oxide for sun protection.

The Total Block products combine physical block, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide with chemical sunscreen filters.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Shop for Cotz and Total Block sunscreens at Coolibar.

Remember full sun protection includes a sun hat, UV clothing, sunglasses and broad-spectrum sunscreen.

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Success Stories Wellness Warriors

Melanoma Survivor Tim

Tim Ward and Family

In 2007, Tim went to a Mayo Clinic dermatologist to have a mole on his left arm looked at. The doctor removed it right away so it could be tested. A few years prior, Tim had this same mole tested, and it was fine. But this time, the biopsy showed that the mole had turned into Melanoma.

Tim’s Story

My name is Tim Ward.  I am 39 years old and had malignant melanoma.  I was diagnosed in the summer of 2007.

I am Australian born and lived in Melbourne Australia for 25 years.  In 1996 I came to America to study at the University of Minnesota in horticulture.  I have worked in the horticulture industry my whole life, outdoors most of the time. 

Five years prior to my diagnosis I had a mole biopsied on my left arm.  The doctors took only a part of the mole and left the rest.  The biopsy came back fine and nothing more was mentioned to me at the time.  Five years later my wife Amy noticed a change of color to that particular mole.  I went to Mayo Clinic to see dermatology.  The physician who examined my body wanted a biopsy of that mole immediately.  Three to four days later I received a call back from Mayo with the diagnosis of malignant melanoma.  They scheduled me that week to remove the rest of the mole and its margins.  They took the margins around the mole and 35 stitches later sewed me up.  Five to ten days later the clinic called again to tell me that they had removed all of the cancer.  I have since had a few other moles removed which have all been cancer free. 

Since the diagnosis I have paid close attention to my entire body. My family has been very sensitive during this experience.  I have 8-year-old twin boys, one with very fair skin like myself.  My wife and I are very conscientious of sun protection for our family.  I have always worn sunscreen year round prior to cancer and since.  Unfortunately, my profession leaves me exposed all of the time.  I try to wear a hat and long sleeves when possible.  I am very careful to apply sunscreen to my children and to make sure they wear UV protection clothing especially when swimming. 

My advice to you would be to use sun protection year round and to try and limit your sun exposure if possible.  Regularly see your doctor and watch for any changes to your skin.

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