May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that there are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers COMBINED?  

Sun protection is important year round, but as the temperatures rise and UV levels increase, it’s even more important to make sure that you have a sun safety plan in place!

While there are several types of skin cancer to be aware of, Melanoma is the most common and often the most serious.  It begins as a malignant tumor in the cells that produce melanin or pigment in the skin, however, when left untreated, it can metastasize into other areas of the body, making it much more difficult to treat successfully. The best way to protect yourself from Melanoma or other types of skin cancer is prevention by way of protection and sun safety awareness.

The best course of action is protection

There are a number of ways you can ensure that you’re protecting your skin all year round and especially as we approach the warmer spring and summer months.  The first is to ensure that you’re using a high quality SPF product.  

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is the measurement used to indicate how effective your product is at protecting your skin from harmful UV rays compared to unprotected skin.   In other words, it tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. For example, using a product with an SPF of 30, means that it will take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing any sunscreen at all.

That doesn’t mean that the higher the SPF the better, it simply means that you should base the amount of SPF you need on the type of activity/events you will be undertaking and amount of time you’ll need or want between applications.

While many skin creams and lotions contain a certain amount of SPF, if you’re looking for a stand-alone sun protection product to add to your skin care routine this summer, here are a few of our favourites:

Tropical Vanilla Day Cream

Don’t forget about the hair & scalp!

While we know that sun protection is important for our face and body, it is equally important to protect the scalp and hair from harmful UV rays!  In fact, the head and neck contain a considerable percentage of our body’s most sensitive skin. 

Even with a full head of hair, it’s important to keep the scalp in mind.  Prolonged exposure to UV can also have drying and damaging effects on the hair by creating a bleaching effect that damages ends, especially for colour-treated hair.  To protect your hair, it is always a good idea to look for hydrating products that include a protective UV filter.

There are a number of ways to protect the delicate scalp and neck area and keep your locks hydrated and flowing.  Powder based sunscreens are a great way to protect the sensitive scalp area without having to apply gooey lotions to the scalp and it is always a good idea to wear a hat or head covering if you’re going to be in the sun for some time.

Here are our top recommendations to keep your scalp and hair safe:

When sourcing a hat or any other sun protection clothing, make sure to look for the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating.  For a hat, your best bet is to look for a wide brimmed hat with a UPF of 30 or higher.  

The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that the best hats for sun protection should have a brim of at least 3 inches.  That way, you’ll have protection for the face, scalp, neck, shoulders and upper back and even those hard to remember spots like the tops of the ears and back of the neck.  They recommend looking for a tightly woven hat rather than a loose straw hat that will let harmful UV rays get through.

From the Inside Out

We can often overlook the ways in which we can heal ourselves from the inside.  Sunscreens and SPF protection are a huge part of sun safety, but there are also ways we can begin to fight harmful UV rays from the inside, through thoughtful nutrition practices and skin enhancing supplements.  That’s why we love Bend Beauty so much!  Bend Beauty’s products are formulated to optimize skin health and longevity. Recent clinical trials have determined that  Renew & Protect  (formerly called Anti-Aging Formula) has the ability to increase skin resistance to UV-induced sunburn. 

Right now when you purchase a Renew & Protect, you’ll receive a complimentary Bend Beauty Bar with your purchase!  Did you know that low-sugar, dark Chocolate has been shown in some studies to improve skin appearance?  In fact, a few squares of dark chocolate several times per week is a nice addition to your skin diet.

Last but not least… 

Areas that are often overlooked when it comes to sun protection are our hands, feet and eyes! A great SPF hand cream and UV protective glasses are the best way to top off your sun safety protocol.  Most sunglasses today have UV protection embedded in the lens rather than coated over it, and most reputable brands list UV protection on their label. 

To be sure that your eyewear is doing the job, look for a label that says “100% protection against both UVA and UVB” or “100% protection against UV 400. For hand cream, make sure to check the label for an SPF rating or double up your body sunscreen for use on the front (and back) of your hands and tops of the feet.  If you’re looking for a specific hand cream, we love the Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl Hand Cream SPF 25!

Know what to look for!

We’ve all spent more time in the sun than we planned at one time or another, so it is always a good idea to do a monthly self skin-check and have a medical professional have a look at least once a year.  When doing your skin-check, things to look for include any abnormal skin growth or any change in the colour, shape, size, or appearance of a skin growth or a lasting abrasion or lesion that doesn’t seem to heal. If you’re looking for a resource on how to perform a self-check,  this is a great video that walks you through how to do your own skin-check.

As Nova Scotians, we like to make the most of the sun while it’s here, so making sure that you have all the tools to keep you and your family safe is the key to a happy and healthy spring and summer! 

Have more questions?

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