The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention wants you to remember the sunscreen when you head out the door this weekend. When you are packing your bags for your Memorial Day fun, make sure sunscreen is on your mind, on your skin, and in your car.
This Friday is the fourth annual “Don’t Fry Day.”
In an effort to encourage the public to become more aware of the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, the Council has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as a day of awareness. “Don’t Fry Day” coincides with the holiday weekend because most people view it as the unofficial beginning of summer and millions will be involved in outdoor activities and events. The goal is to make people more aware so they will take precautions and reduce their risk of skin cancer in regards to sun safety.
The Council promotes a fun four-step campaign to remember using sunscreen: Slip! Slop!Slap! and Wrap! In case you need further explanation:
- Slip! – Put on a shirt; slipping on a lightweight T-shirt can protect you from the sun’s harmful rays
- Slop! – Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen; the higher the SPF the better, use at least SPF 15
- Slap! – Wear a hat with a wide brim to cover your face from the sun
- Wrap! – Wrap on sunglasses around your eyes
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also support “Don’t Fry Day”.
Important Information about Sunscreen
This summer, the FDA has required new labeling identifying differences in sunscreens that are “broad spectrum” versus those that are merely capable of preventing sunburn. Only sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher that block both UVB and UVA rays and pass the broad spectrum test can be labeled as such, under the new FDA regulation.
The broad-spectrum sunscreens will help reduce the risk of sun-induced skin cancer and premature aging when used with other sun protective measures. Sunscreens not labeled broad-spectrum must be labeled with a warning, “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 to only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.” (fda.gov)
Water resistant sunscreens must indicate whether they last for 40 or 80 minutes; they are no longer allowed to claim they are “waterproof” or “sweatproof” but must state water resistant.
Additionally, manufactures may no longer make claims that their products work instantly, are “sunblocks”, or provide protection for longer than two hours without further application.
Other Safety Tips
- Infants under six-months old should not be exposed to the sun under any circumstances
- Limit sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest; if that is not possible, use the highest SPF and Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!
- Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before spending any time in the sun, sunscreens do not work immediately
- People of every shade are susceptible to the sun, use sunscreen regardless of complexion
- You can still get burned on overcast days; use sunscreen any time you go outside
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours
- Reapply more often if you are swimming or engaging in physical activities
- If you are driving and your arms or face are exposed to the sun through glass, do not forget those areas
- Avoid the use of tanning beds and sunlamps
Each year in the United States, there are more than 3.5 million new diagnosed cases of skin cancer and another 2.2 million people treated for the disease. If you find a spot or mole that looks unusual or different, see your physician immediately.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sunscreens should remain at their original strength for up to three years; they are designed to stay at their original strength for that long. You should be able to use your sunscreen until it runs out, should you have some left over from year to year.
That said, the Clinic goes on to say, you should be using a generous enough amount of sunscreen, so you should not have any left over from year to year. However, if you are a bargain shopper and pick up extra tubes at the end of the season, you may, so it is good to know it would still be acceptable to use.
Still, if there is an expiration date indicated on the sunscreen, discard it after that date. Additionally, if your product is more than three years old or has been exposed to high temperatures, it is time to purchase more.
So, this weekend, enjoy so fun, sunshine, and wear plenty of sunscreen when you celebrate a fabulous Memorial Day.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent / Product Specialist