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Sunscreen in Winter

Skin Cancer Awareness month may be the month of May, but with skin cancer being the most common form of cancer in the United States, this deadly disease should be grabbing the attention of people our age now. As many of you tanned this summer in the sun, you might not have realized exactly what was happening. Don’t even think about using a tanning booth, you increase your chances of melanoma by 75%. The word melanoma will have much more meaning to you by the end of this article. You may not see the effects tanning in the sun until years from now, but your sunscreen only lasts two hours at the most, and only if applied correctly. If your bottle of sunscreen was also baking in the sun, it is probably going to expire faster and not even work anymore. If your sunscreen seems different, get a new bottle. As we are transitioning into a new season, that old bottle of sunscreen is out of your life until May.

Not so fast. Many of you ski or snowboard in the winter and should know that you are even more exposed to the harmful rays of the sun up high in the mountains. Not only that, but many of you do not realize that the smooth, light-colored (earth science reference) snow reflects the UVA and UVB rays of the sun directly onto your young, beautiful skin. Don’t wait to protect yourself when you start noticing wrinkles. Familiarize yourself with the different types of sunscreen and what they can do for you. Also, make sure you apply your sunscreen the right way. A big mistake to avoid is putting the sunscreen in your hands, rubbing your hands together, and then applying the sunscreen to the designated area such as your face. Your hands are getting the vital SPF but not face. What may encourage you to apply sunscreen daily before heading out is knowing that with my personal tip, you can prevent streaks of white on your skin.

You need enough sunscreen for it to work. So putting on multiple thin layers in the morning will do the trick for preventing streaks of sunscreen. Make sure your skin has absorbed each layer before applying the next. This will quickly become part of your routine as it has mine, and it is the quickest, easiest way to prevent skin cancer and wrinkles. Melanoma is a common form of skin cancer that is the deadliest. With melanoma, the cancerous cells can easily spread to your blood, and you blood travels everywhere in your body leading to a more serious case. So know that by wearing sunscreen now you are preventing a deadly disease such as melanoma later in your life. People our age are familiar with scars, and by wearing sunscreen your are saving yourself from the scars that Moh’s surgery (which removes the cancer in your skin after diagnosis) leaves which not one of you want. The most exposed areas of skin that you should think first to protect are your face, neck, ears, hands, tops of your feet. The skin around your eyes is especially susceptible to the sun because your eyes have very thin skin around them. While in a car, not wearing sunscreen or sunglasses is very dangerous. The sun hits your eyes frequently and wearing sunglasses protects you from skin cancer and eye issues.

A special note to the juniors and seniors driving for the first time: number one is safety and that includes protecting your hands while they are on the wheel and directly in the way of the sun’s rays. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Don’t go as high as SPF 100 because at that point it just means there is lot of chemicals in your sunscreen. I recommend SPF 45. Avoid spray sunscreens. They don’t work as well, and are adding chemicals to the pollution of the air you breathe. Another tip, remember that clothing is your first line of defense. Don’t just wear sunscreen when you go to the beach in summer, wear it in winter. A bonus is having wrinkle-free skin when you age. In conclusion, make sunscreen and protecting yourself a routine and spread the awareness. Go to skincancer.org for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s statistics on skin cancer, for proper application of sunscreen and what will work for you, and the warning signs on your skin. Finally, be sun smart and live a healthy and comfortable life.