It seems there is a month for everything, but this one comes directly from the US Department of Health and Human Services: it’s UV Safety Month!
This makes sense. July is one of the hottest months in the US, and it’s also right in the middle of prime vacation time. As we know, UV rays from the sun are the main cause of skin cancer, which is the nation’s most common type of cancer. And that’s not to mention the painful sunburns, dry skin and wrinkles that UV rays can cause.
Coolibar supports the efforts of the United States HHS department and the Federal Occupational Health agency to raise awareness about skin cancer and the dangers of UV rays. They include encouraging families to adopt good sun safety habits together, to include wearing sunscreen; we would add don’t forget your UPF 50+ sun protective clothing!
Watch for posts throughout July about UV safety for your skin and even for your eyes!
So you have fair skin. You may have skin that we sometimes refer to as “porcelain” or “alabaster.” You might be borderline flammable. You might even be Irish. And the spring sun is coming fast, in its ultraviolet glory. What can you do?
A Brief (But Fair) History
We believe our distant ancestors were trying to give us clues about this.
Some people think that the earliest humans were naturally fair-skinned (but quite hairy). Since they lived where the sun radiates strong UV radiation year round, these people were forced to develop more melanin (the dark pigment in the skin) as protection from skin cancer.
Others think that everybody started out dark-skinned and gradually lightened up as people migrated to places with less sunlight (fair skin tends to collect vitamin D from the sun more effectively).
Either way the message is clear: sun protection is pretty important.
What Can Be Done
Nowadays, sun protection is also much more elegant. Fair-skinned people are some of our favorite customers here at Coolibar. We love providing fashionable choices for the fair-skinned. For us, St. Patrick’s Day is the unofficial beginning of summer. Well, not quite. But you get the idea.
Check out our Coolibar looks for spring. Notice that we’re not just talking sun hats. We’re talking complete outfits in the lightest, most comfortable fabrics in wearable sun protection. We have beach wraps, tops, swimwear, travel apparel, perhaps the coolest boardshorts you’ve ever seen and much more for men, women and kids – all guaranteed UPF 50+. Where the fair-skinned fear to tread – out in the full sun on a warm day – Coolibar wearers can now stride boldly!
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.
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:
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.
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 www.harlemlovebirds.com.
Because skin cancer rates continue to rise among young adults – a group previously unlikely to be diagnosed – states are acting on convincing evidence that indoor tanning is a significant factor. In 2013, following a number of other states, Illinois, Nevada, and Texas enacted legislation to block access to indoor tanning for minors. This is a trend we hope will eventually be rolled out across all states.
In June, Texas and Nevada became the fourth and fifth U.S. states to pass laws prohibiting anyone under 18 from indoor tanning; in August, Illinois became the sixth.
These new laws take effect as significant scientific evidence links indoor tanning with melanoma and other skin cancers. According to figures compiled by the Skin Cancer Foundation, of melanoma cases among 18-to-29-year-olds who had tanned indoors, 76 percent were attributable to tanning bed use. And more than 170,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in the U.S. each year are associated with indoor tanning.
Along with the three states to entirely ban indoor tanning among minors in 2013, three others passed legislation regulating the use of indoor tanning equipment. In Oregon, anyone under 18 is prohibited from indoor tanning without a prescription, and in Connecticut and New Jersey indoor tanning is prohibited for anyone under age 17, This is in addition to other states that require parental consent, or prohibit indoor tanning for those under 14.
The American Academy of Dermatology cites studies showing nearly 28 million Americans – including 2.3 million teens—use indoor tanning beds each year. However, six states have now banned indoor tanning for minors since the beginning of 2012, and some 29 additional states have at least one legislative bill under consideration regarding the regulation or prohibition of indoor tanning for minors in 2014. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed that the classification for sunlamps and tanning beds be raised to a Class II level, which institutes stricter regulations to protect public health.
Make your voice heard.
If you believe indoor tanning devices should receive the maximum amount of regulation, which more closely matches the health risks of these harmful devices, write a letter of support to your state elected officials urging the FDA to regulate tanning beds and ban those under 18 from using them. You can also email The Skin Cancer Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Foundation will compile all emails of support and send them to the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s office.
It’s still a common misconception that darker skin tones are not at risk for skin cancer. The Hispanic population is the fastest growing ethnic group in the US. Unfortunately, along with this increase is an increase in the rate of skin cancer among its members. An unwarranted confidence in skin color may contribute to a lack of compliance with sun safety techniques–possibly one reason for the rapid rise in melanoma and other skin cancers.
A study from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey concluded that there is a lack of skin cancer prevention interventions targeting this community. Sunscreen use in the Hispanic population is also low. More than 43% of Hispanics never use sunscreen. While this group does produce extra melanin (which is a natural UV protector), sun safety is still important. Additionally, 89% of Hispanic women have never had a conversation with their doctor about melanoma.
So what can we do to change this? We can educate. Inform everyone that wearing sunscreen daily and sun protective clothing is important for all ethnicities. Year-round sun protection (yes, even in the winter), skin checks and awareness can benefit of all of us.
Have you ever been at a party or event where a conversation ignited over something you were wearing? Maybe it was your interesting hat, your scarf (which you bought while touring Italy) or your T-Shirt with a clever message. All these items make for great conversation starters, but if you want to steer the chitchat towards something more meaningful, a UPF 50+ SPOT Skin Cancer™ T-Shirt could be just the thing you’re looking for.
Last spring we partnered with The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) SPOT Skin Cancer™ initiative to help raise awareness on skin cancer prevention. Since our UPF 50+ SPOT T’s were revealed at the Academy’s 71st Annual Meeting in Miami, hundreds of you are showing off your SPOT and talking about skin cancer prevention. Here’s what people are saying.
Comfortable UV Awareness
“I hope the Spot is noticeable enough to lead to questions. It might be an excellent shirt to wear to ‘meet the legislators’ events.”
“I prefer this t-shirt over the other simple white mainly because of the logo. The fabric is as always, comfortable and lightweight and has this ‘cool vibe.’ Paired with skinny dark jeans and flats it’s a match made in heaven.”
We’ve got UPF 50+ SPOT T-Shirts for men and women and Gigi the Giraffe™ for children. Coolibar will donate $10 from every SPOT Skin Cancer™ T-Shirt sale to the initiative.
Talking about skin cancer is the first step in prevention and SPOT can start the conversation. Together, we can all work toward preventing skin cancers.
Yesterday, actor Hugh Jackman posted a photo on Instagram announcing his skin cancer diagnosis following treatment. He had a basal cell carcinoma removed from his nose. His photo comes with a warning to be SunAWARE.
“Deb said to get the mark on my nose checked. Boy was she right! I had a basil cell carcinoma. Please don’t be foolish like me. Get yourself checked. And USE sunscreen!!!”
Skin cancer is the most common cancer and Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common skin cancer with an estimated 2.8 Million cases each year in the U.S. (Source: American Cancer Society) and is caused mainly by UV exposure. Good Morning America discuses the importance of getting your skin checked with dermatologist Dr. Doris Day after Hugh’s announcement. See the GMA segment below.
Hugh is recovering and expected to be just fine, his case was caught early. Hugh’s skin cancer diagnosis is a good reminder for all of us to protect our skin. Be SunAWARE and Be Safe!
Last summer we invited customers to share a photo of themselves and tell us why they would make a great Coolibar model. You voted (lots of you, thanks!) and our creative team chose the winner.Meet Carol, perhaps our most passionate customer, who submitted not one, but five pictures. It was easy says Carol, because she lives in her Coolibar.Even at the office–paired with a set of fresh water pearls.
“As head of the chamber of commerce, I walk around the downtown area visiting businesses. Throwing on some fresh water pearls with a lovely Coolibar blouse goes from office, (roll down sleeves) to the sunny downtown sidewalks. When you need to be careful of sun exposure, this is an easy, stylish option,” said Carol. Carol was ecstatic to be picked as our winner.She answered a few questions for us about her experience, her photo shoot and debut as a model.
Why did you apply for the Coolibar model contest? I’ve been very health conscious most of my life, I’m a registered dietitian, and write nutrition and wellness articles. I advocate healthy eating with lots of fresh foods, and being physically active. After melanoma surgery and reconstruction, it took a while to get back to my tennis, golf, kayaking etc….and once I was strong and flexible enough to enjoy them again, I found I spent too much time re-applying sun screen and not enough time having fun. I was always concerned that even though the SPF lotion said “waterproof”….how much water or perspiration would affect the integrity of the protection. The Coolibar clothing allows me to be outside with family and friends and enjoy water and sweat-inducing land fun.
What was your favorite part of the entire experience? It was fun including my husband in my kayaking photos and my Standard Poodle, Sophie in some of the shots.
How did it feel to be a model for a day? I had a basic idea of what would be happening as my neighbor friend & I organized a “Neighbor Hood Progressive Party” that was filmed for TV. I knew shots would be repeated in order to get the best light/expression/position/ etc.
Was there any personal goal you had during this process? I am hoping that as I am more pro-active with sharing my enthusiasm for the Coolibar product, more people will take a bit of effort to protect their skin from sun damage.
Is there anything else you wish to share? I presently write a blog called NutritionFreshOnline, which I want to expand to include fitness and skin health. I have personal experience with both (I’ve set 2 state swim records in AZ) so I have a wealth of personal anecdotes and insights that could be helpful and appreciated by many.
The 7th annual “Win-The-Fight” SavageMan Triathlon Festival at the Deep Creek Lake State Park in western Maryland attracted nearly 1100 elite athletes from 30 states and several countries including Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand on September 14, 2013. Athletes competed for more than a medal as the event raised vital funds for the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, a voice for melanoma prevention, detection, care and cure.
According to the Foundation’s President, Greg Safko, “The ‘Win-The-Fight’ SavageMan Triathlon Festival has garnered much international attention as arguably the world’s toughest and most savage triathlon at the half Ironman distance.” Besides attracting the world’s most accomplished triathletes to test themselves and compete in the “#1 Hardest Race on Earth!” as rated by Triathlete magazine, the event also informed athletes, spectators and donors that melanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer among young adults ages 25 to 29, and if not prevented or detected early, is extremely formidable. “We’re very proud that our signature “Win-The-Fight” fundraising event for the Foundation is supported by a multitude of athletes, team members and sponsors such as Coolibar, to further the JMNMF mission of melanoma education, advocacy and research,” said Safko.
The SavageMan 70.0 race features a 1.2-mile swim in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland’s largest freshwater lake, followed by the crown jewel bike stage featuring an over 6,000 foot vertical climb including the most savage ascent in all of triathlon – the Westernport “Wall”. After a 55.6 mile bike-ride, competitors run 13.1 miles on a lakeside trail and end the race with a panoramic lake finish.
Pasty. With one word, an instant emotional connection occurs. A word some degrade themselves with when spring comes and their skin is pale. According to Jen Adkins, mother and founder of Not Pasty, we’re not pasty. We’re simply the color of our skin. No more, no less. After a life-altering experience, Jen is now working to change people’s perceptions of what it is to be pasty – and feel beautiful with the skin you were given.
As a redhead with fair skin and many sunburns as a child, sun safety has always been important to me, especially now as the mom of two blond hair, fair boys. As a writer who focuses on skin care, I’ve always been a bit obsessive with sun protection. Most of my readers are interested in learning about wrinkle prevention and I love telling them that sunscreen is the #1 anti-aging product on the market. But recently, my need to stay on top of sun safety took on a whole new level.
Last year, my family of four grew by one with the addition of our amazing then 5-year-old daughter. It was love at first sight, literally. The very first night we were together, I noticed that there were quite a few little brown moles on her skin. Later at a checkup, her doctor decided they were probably clogged pores, but referred us to a dermatologist to be sure.
The dermatologist almost instantly told me she thought my daughter had skin cancer. Biopsies confirmed her thoughts. Those “clogged pores” turned out to be basal cell carcinomas and her body was full of them – hundreds, head to toe.
It’s quite life-changing to all of a sudden have a 5-year-old with skin cancer. Skin cancer is an adult cancer, or so I thought, but I was wrong. It took us some time to figure out how to do life with skin cancer and of course we’re still learning.
Imagine knowing that going out in the sun will increase the number of cancers tumors on your child’s body, yet also knowing that your child doesn’t care about that and just wants to be a normal child. It is a tough balance trying to come up with ways to allow her to be that normal child while taking on the adult responsibility of keeping her skin safe. Our sun safety habits as a family have taken top priority, not just for our daughter, but for all five of us.
In June of 2013, after living with skin cancer for over a year and writing about skin for more than five years, I launched a new website called Not Pasty. We chose the name Not Pasty as a jab at those who use the term “pasty” to degrade fair skin. Not Pasty is about sun safety, self-love and even a bit of beauty. It’s a place where women can go to learn about enjoying sun safely, share their stories of self-love and encourage others in their journey of self-acceptance.
Because I write about the skin for millions of readers and live with skin cancer in my household every day, switching the focus of general skin topics to sun safety was an easy step for me and I have a lot of knowledge to share. My goal at Not Pasty is to tell sun truths, not fads or myths. I always fall on the side of caution and am constantly in contact with top doctors and experts around the country when questions arise.
I want Not Pasty to be the place people go to learn and discuss sun safety – where people can learn facts and tips, share what sun protection products they are using and learn about new ones. And we love when women share their personal stories – we call them Real Stories – about how they walked through the hard and came out ahead.
Most importantly, I want to encourage women to see their natural skin color as unique and beautiful and come to realize how ridiculous it is to brown their skin in the sun in order to achieve some silly idea of media-pushed beauty.
I’d love to be a part of changing the way the world thinks about natural skin tones, and I’d love to have you be a part of it with us.