All this month we’ve been reminding people that African Americans (and others with naturally dark skin) can get skin cancer, too. And, as African American History Month concludes, we at Coolibar would like to ensure that the flow of information about cancer and skin of color does not.
Skin cancer – particularly melanoma – has been shown to be much deadlier to African Americans than for Caucasians. The Skin Cancer Foundation points out that 52 percent of non-Hispanic black patients receive an initial diagnosis of advanced stage melanoma, compared to 16 percent of non-Hispanic white patients.
There are several reasons for this, including that squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the most common skin cancer in African Americans, tends to be more aggressive and can carry up to a 40% chance of spreading.
But many of us also still believe that African American skin, with its higher melanin content, is just highly resistant to developing cancer caused by the sun. African Americans simply tend to seek treatment much later because skin cancer isn’t top of mind.
In fact, typical African American skin protects at the equivalent of a 13.4 SPF sunscreen. (SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it mostly measures UVB radiation that causes darkening or burning on the surface of the skin). UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, measures UVB and UVA radiation. UVA penetrates deeply into the skin and is, by far, the most prevalent of the sun’s radiation.
Effective sun protection starts at UPF 30, and should ideally be UPF 50 or higher.
There is more to be repeated, remembered and learned; for example, the Skin Cancer Foundation has some excellent facts about ethnicity and the dangers of the sun.
African American History Month may come to an end. But the effort to defeat skin cancer continues year round!
We’ve been keeping a close eye on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, if only to imagine what it’s like to slide down an ice-covered slope at 80-plus miles per hour on purpose. If you’ve been watching too, you likely saw something unexpected: temperatures topped 17 degrees C. in Sochi (that would be more than 60 degrees here at Coolibar headquarters near Minneapolis, MN, which hasn’t happened in a while). This is the Winter Olympics?
Especially as we look at these photos from February 12 in the Mail Online, we’re reminded once again how important it is to protect ourselves from the sun year round. In fact, sun protection is much easier to overlook during winter, when exposure tends to be more intermittent. UVA and UVB rays are always a danger for unprotected skin regardless of the temperature or time of year.
One of our heroes, Julia Mancuso – a US Olympic alpine skier who won a bronze medal February 10 in the Ladies Super Combined, which is an official name for “flying down an icy slope at 80 mph”– is already on top of it. Aware of the dangers, especially at higher altitudes with the sun reflecting off of snow, she shares her story and her tips for staying sun safe with the American Academy of Dermatology.
While sitting in the sun sure looks more fun than, say, missing a gate in the Olympic downhill, let’s remember to take care of ourselves. Here are our SunAWARE tips, good all year round:
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia begin in less than a month. While the events are cold weather related – bobsled, hockey, ice skating and skiing to name a few – the athletes remind us of the importance of sun protection year round, no matter where you live. US Olympic skier Julia Mancuso is a US favorite (gold medalist and Minnesota native Lindsay Vonn is staying home due to injuries). Julia is out skiing every day to train. And although the temperatures may be low, UV rays are still damaging – especially at higher altitudes, such as in Sochi where the alpine ski courses start more than 7,000 feet above sea level. Julie gives her tips on sun protection before hitting the slopes.
Apply sunscreen at least fifteen minutes before going outside
Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect against both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays)
Reapply sunscreen every few hours; keep a small bottle of sunscreen with you
Don’t forget to protect your eyes!
Wear a hat or helmet
Along with UPF 50+ sun protective hats, 100% UV protective sunglasses and SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen, we recommend the Coolibar Sun Gaiter for added face and neck coverage.
We wish Julia and the other athletes great success at the Olympics. Whether you’re going outside to cross-country ski, or taking your dog for a walk, or if you happen to be going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi (jealous!), remember: it’s always important to protect your skin from the sun!
All sunscreens are not created equal. To help consumers better understand what they are buying, and to help protect them from unwanted excessive UV ray exposure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new sunscreen labeling requirements. First announced June 14, 2011, it was in 2013 that consumers began seeing sunscreen labels with the changes required for compliance with new FDA regulations. We’ve compiled a list of those changes and what to look for on labels.
What to look for
Sunscreens that block UVA and UVB rays will be labeled Broad Spectrum
Not every sunscreen is Broad Spectrum, so make sure you check the label. Only Broad Spectrum sunscreens can do both, prevent skin cancer, photo-aging and sunburn.
Manufactures cannot label sunscreens as “waterproof” or “sweat proof”
These claims cannot be proven. Instead, labels will state water resistant if it applies. To make this claim, the product must pass another test. This test shows how long a sunscreen keeps its SPF when a person goes in the water or sweats. The label also must state how long the water resistance lasts, either 40 or 80 minutes.
The maximum SPF value on sunscreen labeling is limited to SPF 50+
There is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50.
At Coolibar, all of the sunscreen we carry is in compliance with the new regulations. “The new rules are designed to help consumers know which products offer the best protection against the damaging rays of the sun.” – Debbie Runck, Coolibar Compliance Manager
Remember, the regulations are to help consumers know which products offer the best protection. To learn more about the current FDA sunscreen regulations visit the FDA website.
What do you look for in a good sunscreen? Do you find the new sunscreen label changes helpful?
Fifteen minutes of sun exposure does more than sunburn fair skin, it ages skin too. The good news is with daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen, people can prevent photo-aging.
Even though dermatologists currently recommend daily sunscreen use to patients for wrinkle, age spot and skin cancer prevention, a new Australia based study in “Annals of Internal Medicine” provides the most extensive evidence of sunscreen’s anti-aging effectiveness to-date.
900 Caucasian participants in Australia under age 55 were randomly split into two groups. Group one was instructed to apply sunscreen to their head, neck, arms and hands every morning, after a few hours of outdoor sun exposure or after being in water or sweating. Group two was told to use sunscreen at their leisure.
Two-thirds of all participants had small skin samples taken from the back of their hands at the beginning of the study. Four-and-a-half years later, researchers once again excised a skin sample from the same participants, but the results of the study turned out to be more visible than expected. Those who applied sunscreen daily displayed younger looking skin than those who used sunscreen at their discretion.
Aussies are already known for their diligent sun protection habits but not necessarily motivated by anti-aging efforts. Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer of any country in the world. Almost two out of three Australians will be treated for some form of skin cancer during their lifetime and melanoma is more commonly diagnosed than lung cancer. Factors contributing to Australia’s skin cancer rates include the generally light skinned population, the active outdoor lifestyle, depleted ozone layer and the country’s proximity to the equator. According to the “NY Times”, most participants, regardless of which group they were assigned, were using sunscreen at least some of the time, and two-thirds wore sun hats.
It’s never too late to start using sunscreen. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor reported on the “Today Show”, “Even if you’re 55 you can still roll back the clock two or three years”.
Choosing the right sunscreen is essential for the protection to be effective. In the study, participants used broad-spectrum sunscreen, which blocks both ultraviolet-A and ultraviolet-B rays, and sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. Reapplication throughout the day was also essential.
Two of our favorite sunscreens at Coolibar, CōTZ and Total Block, provide excellent UVA and UVB protection; however, there are some differences you should know about. We invited Justin Dannecker of Fallene to answer some of the most common questions we get from customers regarding these sunscreens.
Please provide a brief background of the company, your mission, and what you’re working on these days.
Fallene, Ltd. was founded by board certified plastic surgeon and dermatological chemist Dr. Harry Fallick. He had the idea to formulate a product with superior protection for individuals with photosensitive skin. Thus Total Block was created. Continuing along the path of photo-protection innovation came Fallene’s latest sun protective product–CōTZ. CōTZ sunscreen offers maximum protection for individuals that may have sensitive skin and are concerned with chemicals found in many sunscreens. For example, CōTZ Balanced Mineral Complex™ is free of oils, fragrances, preservatives, parabens, PABA, gluten, phthalates, does not irritate or sting and is gentle enough for all skin types.
What is the difference between your CōTZ brand and Total Block brand?
Total Block contains 5 sunscreen filters (2 physical and 3 chemical) for a very protective barrier against UV radiation and even into the visible light spectrum. These products are for someone who needs the ultra high protection.
CōTZ contains only physical sunscreen filters: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These products are for people who have sensitive skin and are concerned with chemical sunscreen filters. Both lines contain the #1 and #2 rated sunscreen ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Can you explain why your packaging looks different this year? What is new on the label that we should know about?
The packaging changes were mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The two main features on the packaging that changed were that water-resistance of a product must be given a time frame of effectiveness, either 40 or 80 minutes. The second was that all sunscreens must pass a “broad spectrum” test in order to claim broad spectrum protection on their packaging and also be above an SPF 15. These changes were done so that it would be clearer to consumers what they were purchasing and how it would function as a sun protective product.
Do you have any sunscreen that won’t sting or burn sensitive facial skin?
The most popular product that we offer for sensitive facial skin is the CōTZ Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40. This product is 100% free of: oils, fragrances, chemical sunscreen filters and parabens. It is also very gentle and goes on smooth as to not irritate. Additionally it is non-comedogenic, so it is great for acne prone skin as well since it will not clog pores.
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?
Zinc oxide has been used for centuries as a healing ingredient in many products so it is considered to be very gentle. It also happens to be the #1 UV filter. We have utilized only this ingredient in our pediatric and sensitive skin products to offer the ultimate in gentle protection for those with the most sensitive skin.
Is there a way to reduce the white residue some zinc based sunscreens leave behind?
Our sunscreens are formulated with micronized zinc oxide, which does not leave a white residue on your skin.
Are your products safe to use on babies/toddlers?
The best product to use on children is our CōTZ Pediatric product, which contains no chemical filters, oils, fragrances, parabens or PABA. This is a great product for children above the age of 6 months.
Why is there tint in some of your sunscreen such as CōTZ Plus SPF 58?
We add iron oxide to some of our products for several reasons. It allows the product to match most skin tones by adding a slight tint. It also acts as another sunscreen filter since iron oxide is another mineral just like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Which is better, spray sunscreens or cream sunscreens?
Spray sunscreens all contain chemical filters and are not entirely effective since you might be using it in a windy environment and not get the appropriate amount of the product on your skin to protect you. Since they also all contain chemical sunscreen filters, they are not ideal for individuals with sensitive skin.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about your products/brand?
At Fallene we are committed to developing the next generation of sunscreen and skincare products to meet the needs of our customers. Keep your eyes out for new products on the horizon!
If you have any further questions about Total Block and CōTZ sunscreen, send us a message on the Coolibar Facebook Page.
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.
This April Fools, we’re not fooling around – at least about sunscreen. Almost two years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced their new sunscreen labeling requirements (first announced June 14, 2011), we’re now seeing both small and large sunscreen vendors roll-out new labeling, packaging, and in some cases, improved products. These changes will allow consumers to better understand a sunscreen’s ability to protect against UVA and UVB sun damage, skin cancer and skin aging.
That’s thanks to new FDA testing requirements. For a label to claim that a sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer and sunburn, it will have to pass two tests.
1. The first test is the broad-spectrum test. This test shows whether a sunscreen can protect your skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Both rays can cause skin cancer.
2. The second test is the sun protection factor (SPF) test. This test shows how well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn. Like today, you’ll see the SPF as a number, such as SPF 30. All sunscreen must offer some SPF. The minimum is SPF 2.
New warning: For a sunscreen to carry the claim that it can prevent skin cancer and sunburn, it must offer both: 1) broad-spectrum coverage and 2) an SPF of 15 or higher. If the sunscreen does not offer both, the label will have to carry this warning:
“This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
The FDA will ban companies from claiming that a sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweat proof.” This is simply not possible.
You’ll now see the term “water resistant.” To make this claim, the product must pass another test. This test shows how long a sunscreen keeps its SPF when a person goes in the water or sweats. The label also must state how long the water resistance lasts, either 40 or 80 minutes.
New warning: If a sunscreen is not water resistant, the label must carry a warning. This warning will tell you to use a water-resistant sunscreen if you are likely to sweat or be in water.
Makeup and moisturizers
You’ll see the new claims on makeup and moisturizers, too — provided the product undergoes and passes the FDA tests.
No ratings above SPF 50+
A proposed rule, if enforced, will limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +” because there is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50.
Tanning booths are considered unhealthy by dermatologists, but what about sunless tanning (A.K.A. self tans, UV-free tans, fake tans)? While rocking the natural skin look is most recommended, those who cannot ditch the glow should opt for self tanners over UV tanning. First learn how it works. Then how to properly apply it.
At the local drug-store and you’ll find self tanners in the form of lotions, creams, sprays and tanning wipes. All contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a sugar molecule that darkens the top layer of skin and is the main ingredient used in self tanners. DHA does not instantly dye the skin. Rather, over the course of a few hours, skin will gradually brown. This color will fade in 5 – 10 days.
In the 1920’s DHA was first used as an active ingredient in the pharmaceutical field. Then, in 1957 a doctor discovered the tanning properties of DHA. DHA is the only approved agent for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for artificial tanning—external use only. According to the FDA tanning pills pose many risks, thus they are not FDA approved. Similarly, Melanotan, an illegal synthetic hormone injection that tans skin, can have serious side effects, possibly including death.
Melanie D. Palm, MD, MBA, recently wrote an article for the Skin Cancer Foundation where she states, “There is no clear evidence that DHA is harmful to humans if applied topically and used as directed. Concern about DHA arose recently when a study correlated use of highly concentrated amounts of DHA with production of free radicals, molecules that form naturally in the body due to oxygen use and can damage cells. However, concentrations used in sunless tanning preparations are considered non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.” Self tanners typically contain between 3 and 5 percent DHA.
If you’re going to use self-tanning spray or visit a spray tan booth, it’s recommended not to inhale or get into the mucus membranes as the long-term health effects for inhalation are not yet determined. When the FDA originally approved DHA for external use back in 1977, it was popular in tanning lotions. Now that is comes in spray form, toxicologists are concerned and urge consumers to use with caution.
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.
Way up high in the sky your skin goes to battle with re-circulated dry air and an extra dose of sunlight. These elements leave skin near lifeless by the time you land. Never fear! We have suggestions to save your skin (all 3.4 oz or less of course).
Airplanes have low-humidity. Drinking water and avoiding alcoholic beverages can help retain moisture, but it only goes so far. Additionally, daytime flyers are exposed to UVA – aging rays (all glass will filter UVB (burning) rays). An airplane’s proximity to the sun intensifies UVA exposure. The American Optometric Association estimates a 4% increase in UV radiation with every 1000 feet of elevation, and most commercial aircrafts fly between 30,000 to 40,000 feet above ground. Holly extra UVA!
Step off the plane looking and feeling great by keeping these simple tips and products in mind:
Your number one skin saver should be sunscreen. Not only are most sunscreens moisturizing, but they’ll help prevent skin from absorbing aging rays!
Your lips have some of the thinnest skin on your body. Because lips do not contain oil glands, they tend to dry out easily and become chapped. Additionally, the sun only causes chapped lips to worsen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher.
Spritzing will help your skin stay moist temporarily, but it’s not a necessity. Future Derm beauty blogger Nicki Zevola and guest blogger Jana Levin have two varying opinions on when to use hydrating mist. 1) Before take-off lightly spray the mist on your face and apply sunscreen over top; or 2) when arriving at your final destination remove all makeup and sunscreen, give your skin a spritz and then reapply sunscreen.