‘Tis the season for summer pool parties and endless time spent in the sun. It’s sort of strange being a melanoma survivor in one of the sunniest states in America (Arizona). The activities most people look forward to every year, I actually dread. Going to the pool is such a chore for me that it sort of takes the fun out of it. Not to mention, spending time soaking up the thing that quite literally tried to kill me is a bit of a buzz killer. That said, it’s very impossible to completely avoid the sun and outside activities.
Melanoma is the #1 most diagnosed cancer among 25 to 29 year olds in the U.S. and the 4th most common for women 15-29. It can happen to you and you can implement some fairly simple sun precautions to help prevent it. I get asked pretty frequently about different sunscreens and how I protect myself during the summer months, so I thought I’d share a few of my tips.
Avoid outside activities from 10am - 4pm. This is when the UV rays are the most intense, so I try to plan my outdoor activities in the early morning or evening once the sun goes down. Not to mention, it’s over 100 degrees here in the summer so time outside in the middle of the day is limited! Yard work and dog walks happen extra early at my house.
Seek shade! If you’re going to be outside, find some shade. You all should see my parent’s backyard. My Dad put in a million umbrellas last year (it’s almost like the sun tried to kill his daughter or something) and basically the entire pool is shaded. It’s wonderful and makes an afternoon pool session much safer and enjoyable.
Wear sunscreen. DUH DUH DUH. This is a given, and you should already be doing this. But don’t just wear sunscreen when you’re planning to be outside -- integrate it into your daily routine. You can actually get skin cancer from commuting to and from work without sun protection. So just put some on! I actually use two different types of sunscreen on my face every morning in addition to a full-body sunscreen. I’ve tried tons of different kinds over the years, but here are a few of my favorites if you're looking for some:
I love anything and everything Supergoop. They’re light and not too oily. Sort of pricey, but when you wear it every day, I like to not smell like all coco-nutty.
Neutrogena has a great mineral sunscreen for going to the pool. It’s main ingredient is zinc oxide, so it does give off this ghost and/or translucent skin vibe. It’s an acquired look (ha) but I do feel like it provides the most protection. Tan and bronzed skin is overrated anyway!
Sun Bum is also in my repertoire when I need something quick and easy to put on for yard work or a dog walk. It’s got more of a tropical scent to it, but I also love their SPF chapsticks!
Don’t forget to REAPPLY said sunscreen. People always seem to forget about this piece! Wearing sunscreen is key, but it won’t do you any good if you don’t reapply. Make sure you’re reapplying every 2 hours if you’re outside and more frequently if you’re in the water and/or sweating a lot.
Sunzee has a great product that helps with reapplying. It’s a small watch-like wrist band that has little capsules of sunscreen. Super easy and convenient!
Invest in some UV protection clothing! Did you know that regular clothing doesn't block UV rays? I never thought I'd be that person that wears long sleeves and sun hats outside in the summertime, but I am! It feels sort of strange at first, but I’ve found some great options that feel cool while also providing protection from the harmful UV rays. It doesn't replace my sunscreen, but does help me feel safer (and they're quite fashionable ;)
Coolibar (official apparel of the Melanoma Research Foundation) has TONS of great UV protection clothing options. They even have some sun safe swim suits. (Yes, I have a long sleeved swimsuit and I love it!)
Free Fly Apparel is another great company with some UV protection clothing. I’ve got a couple of their shirts and they’re very light and comfy.
Desert Camo Apparel is a company by a fellow melanoma warrior! She has some fun desert themed UV clothing options too.
Hopefully these suggestions are helpful! I’m always on the hunt for new sun safety tools. So please share them if you have some to add. Skin cancer is so easily preventable so please just be sun safe!