May 30, 2001
WACO, Texas (Cox News Service) - If you're heading for pools or parks this summer, sunscreen may be your best friend. But there are a myriad of other products - some right in your own closet - to help prevent sun damage.
The American Cancer Society's "Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap" slogan for summer is intended to remind people about the steps they need to take to protect themselves from the sun: "slip" on a shirt, "slop" on sunscreen, "slap" on a hat and "wrap" on sunglasses.
"Sun protection is not just one product," said Mary O'Connell, director of skin cancer initiatives for the American Cancer Society. "It's a comprehensive method."
Dr. John Shelton of the Hillcrest Clinic said sun-care products are good incentives for people to protect themselves.
"(The companies) are really taking steps in the right direction," he said. "There's sunscreen in lotions now. And some sunscreens have insect repellent in them. (Sunscreen) can also be found in lip balms and makeup."
Your skin is not the only body part that gets dehydrated from hours of sunbathing. Hair can become coarse and unmanageable if not properly treated. Several companies are targeting the hair with shampoos, conditioners and styling gels with UV protection to offer moisture and manageability to hair. Redken's Sun Shape line includes shampoo, rehydrator and leave-in sun shield. The new products contain an Interbond Conditioning System that combines Vitamin A and Borage Oil to provide UV and antioxidant protection.
Banana Boat offers a hair and scalp protector spray with SPF 15, which is supposed to prevent dry, brittle and sun-damaged hair and sunburned scalp.
O'Connell said the scalp needs protection from the sun. While hair and scalp sunscreens are a good idea, a hat works just as well, she said.
But you must be choosy about the kind of hat you wear. UV rays can still penetrate an open-weave style, so O'Connell recommends wearing a hat and using an umbrella.
"The scalp can get sunburned," Shelton said. "Especially for people with thinner hair or balding. People should really be careful to check their head for any freckling or moles that don't look right. Some can be partially obscured by the hair."
The most sensitive facial areas are the skin beneath your eyes, the ears, nose and neck. And because the skin can seem oilier during the summer, cosmetic companies have developed oil-free makeup with SPF protection. Neutrogena and Oil of Olay offer SPF 15 or higher in their face powders, foundations and lip gloss.
The lips are just as prone to sunburn as the skin. Most companies offer lip balm to protect lips from becoming dry and cracked, but some also have added sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
Chapstick has created fruity flavors and glittery colors, and Banana Boat has created kid-friendly lip balms in fruity flavors with SPF 30.
Eyes also can be irritated by the sun. Just because you wear sunglasses regularly doesn't mean your eyes are protected from sunlight. According to Prevent Blindness Texas, wearing the wrong sunglasses could increase the amount of sun damage to your eyes.
Sunglasses should block 99 percent to 100 percent of the full UV spectrum. Most sunglasses are labeled with information on their UV protection factor.
For those who will spend a lot of time around sand and water, which can reflect the sun's rays, Prevent Blindness Texas recommends doubling or tripling the UV protection in sunglasses.
Mary Schimmoller, program director for the Fort Worth branch of Prevent Blindness Texas, said long-term eye damage can lead to cancer in the eyes or early cataracts.
Some companies now make contact lenses with built-in UV protection, but Schimmoller said lens wearers should still wear sunglasses.
You've got your hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. What else is available for sun protection? Rit, a producer of home dyes and laundry treatments, has created a new laundry additive that washes UV protection into your clothes to help block more than 96 percent of the sun's rays.
"Most people believe their clothing gives them adequate protection from the sun," said Perry Robins, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. "Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, many white cotton T-shirts only provide an ultraviolet protection factor of 5," significantly less than the recommended SPF of 15.
Rit's new Sun Guard is good for 20 washes on light-colored clothes.
Another way to get protection from the sun is wearing fabrics with UV protection. Solartex, a clothing manufacturer in Virginia, offers C-wear, clothing that offers 100 percent SPF. Made from DuPont Lycra, the fabric combines a unique weave and specialized dying processes.
The new UV-protected fabric comes in shorts, shirts, hats and swimsuits for children and adults. The swimsuits cover from the neck to the knees and to the elbows. O'Connell said the remaining skin exposed should be protected with sunscreen.
The ankles and tops of the feet are two areas that many people don't think about, but those areas also need protection from the sun.
Lorrie Masey of Scott and White Memorial Hospital's dermatology clinic in Temple said preventing sunburn and skin cancer is not rocket science.
"Sun protection is really about common sense," Masey said. "Cover up and make sure you have your sunscreen."
Copyright 2001 Cox News Service. All rights reserved.