Summertime is here (finally. seriously.) so being active is starting to become a way of life - something that I want to do rather than something that I tell myself to get through in order to deserve the hot shower. I talk a lot in this blog about eating healthy and being active, but there is something else very important to me that everyone should remember when being active and that is: use protection. Whether you are the fairest of the fair or the darkest of the dark, if you're out in the sun being active, you need to use sunscreen. Worried about not getting enough vitamin D? (Had to bring it back to nutrition for a moment) Don't be - even if you put your sunscreen on 15 minutes before you go outside, your skin will still be able to synthesis enough vitamin D during your time in the sun.
Ok back to sunscreen. There are a lot of sunscreens out there, so how can you know if the $4 bottle will do the same thing as the $16 bottle? Chances are that as long as you are getting a high enough SPF, you'll be fine with the cheaper version, although it might not be as gentle on your skin or might not smell as nice. One thing that I always look for is the Skin Cancer Foundation's seal of recommendation. They're in the process of changing over to a new seal, but it should look something like this:
You can find a list of products including sunscreen, sunglasses, clothing, and umbrellas that have received this recommendation here. A few things I recently learned about sunscreen that you may find interesting: The FDA has mandated that they can no longer claim to be water or sweat "proof" just resistant. Sunscreen with an SPF of lower than 15 cannot claim to help prevent skin cancer. Sunscreen cannot claim to be effective for more than two hours without reapplication.
That last one may be especially surprising to those of you who think that you can put it on in the morning and then be good to go all day. Remember the importance of reapplying though - even if it still feels like you're wearing sunscreen, the effectiveness might have worn off. I find this to be a good time to use the spray sunscreen (being the fairest of the fair, I don't tend to trust the spray to cover every fair bit of me during initial application). I'll keep spray sunscreen in transition during a longer triathlon and reapply between events. It's easy, it takes 5 seconds, and your skin will thank you years down the line. I also recommend keeping a bottle of SPF 30 (or higher if you are related to me) in your car or backpack or purse. You never know when you might be outside for longer than expected and prevention is key for skin cancer. Be smart and protect yourself this summer.
(For more on skin cancer prevention as well as warning signs of melanoma, visit The Skin Cancer Foundation website)