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Jacquelyne Froeber

HealthyWomen's Senior Editor

Jacquelyne Froeber is an award-winning journalist and editor. She’ holds a b.a. in journalism from Michigan State University. She is the former editor-in-chief of Celebrated Living magazine and has editing and writing experience for print and online publications, including Health magazine, Coastal Living magazine and AARP.org.

As a breast cancer survivor, Jacquelyne encourages everyone to perform self-exams and get their yearly mammograms.

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Beach accessories. hat, sunglasses and suntan lotion
iStock.com/Irina Kozmova

5 Items You Need to Have Fun in the Sun

Throw some shade at skin cancer with these protective products and tips

Your Health

May 6, 2024, is Melanoma Monday and May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

With summer right around the corner, many of us are ready to soak up some sun. But it’s important to remember to protect your skin whenever you step outside.

Most cases of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — are linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. About 1 in 40 women and people assigned female at birth will develop melanoma in their lifetime.

Read: Melanoma 101 >>

The good news is that you can take steps to block harmful rays from the sun and still enjoy your time outdoors. As a rule, try not to schedule activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the UV rays are the strongest.

Here are more sun safety tips and products to help protect yourself from skin cancer.

Body sunscreen

Sunscreen is your superpower against skin cancer-causing UV rays. From your head to your toes, you should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you leave the house, and reapply every two hours or right after you’ve been swimming or sweating.

Read: Fast Facts: What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer >>

There are many sunscreen options out there, but look for options that don’t contain propylparaben or oxybenzone, two ingredients that have been linked to cancer.

And whatever sunscreen you choose, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends that the formula checks the following boxes:

  • A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
  • A broad spectrum formula to protect against cancer-causing UVA and UVB radiation
  • Water resistance (even if you’re not planning to get in the water, these formulas stay on your skin longer)

As if protection against skin cancer wasn’t cool enough, sunscreen also helps prevent premature skin aging, including dark spots and wrinkles.

You might consider

Blue Lizard sunscreen, Supergoop sunscreen, Black Girl sunscreen

Sunscreen for lips

Keep your pout protected with a lip balm, lipstick, chapstick or gloss with SPF. Like body sunscreen, the AAD recommends SPF 30 or higher and to reapply after two hours or after drinking and eating.

You might consider

ATTITUDE, Carmex, Raw Elements

Reading sunglasses

A stylish pair of sunglasses that double as readers are the way to go if you enjoy a book on the beach. Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and protect the delicate skin around your eyes. Look for a pair that blocks 99% to 100% of UV radiation.

You might consider

Readers, Peepers, Maui Jim

Sun protection hats

Hats with a brim of at least 3 inches can shade all the right places including your face, neck and scalp. Look for tightly woven fabrics like canvas for the most protection. Also consider the color: Darker tones may offer more protection because they absorb harmful rays and keep them from your skin. Note: If you’re thinking about a baseball cap, still look for at least a 3-inch brim and don’t forget the sunscreen on your ears, the back of your neck and all the other spots that may still be exposed.

You might consider

Simplicity Hats, REI, Coolibar

Sun protection clothing

As temperatures heat up, you may want to wear less clothing, but covering your skin helps block harmful rays when you’re outside. Choose lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and coverings for your legs. For added protection, look for clothing with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) on the label. The higher the number the better: pieces with UPF 50 block 98% of rays. Like hats, darker colors offer more protection compared to lighter colors.

You might consider

Land’s End, L.L. Bean, Athleta

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