The #1 reason to stay out of the sun


Right now I’m reading Pale Girl Speaks, a memoir by Hillary Fogelson. We met at a breakfast a few weeks ago, and that title is completely appropriate; her complexion is so fair that it’s nearly translucent. If it sounds like her skin would be sun-sensitive, that’s because it is. So much so, actually, that she’s been diagnosed with melanoma three times, and she’s not even 40 yet.

The first diagnosis came when she was 25. You know how we’re all supposed to go to a dermatologist for an annual mole check? Well, Hillary did, and that visit saved her life. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, but if detected early, it’s almost always curable.

Melanoma is a largely preventable disease.

Along with telling her story as part of Olay’s Best Beautiful Stories and in her book, Hillary is a sun-protection preacher. (In a good way.) This is because melanoma is largely preventable. You can dramatically decrease your risk by staying out of the sun, wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, donning floppy hats, and even wearing UPF-rated clothing.

I know, I know: But you want a tan! Tans look so healthy! (Even though they’re not.) Ah, but you can still indulge your inner Malibu Barbie. With tons of self-tanners available, you can easily look bronzed without exposing your skin to the sun. Problem solved.

It’s really easy to sound preachy when talking about sun protection, and I’m guilty of being fairly heliophobic. (Why yes, I DO have a vitamin D deficiency! Ha ha, but no, really.) But when it’s this easy to avoid skin cancer, and the side effect is that your skin also looks better, why wouldn’t you wear SPF 30 every day?

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  • Richids Coulter

    There is a lot of evidence that shows a direct connection between the use of sunblock and skin cancer. The issue is the use of the hormone-disrupting chemical oxybenzone, which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream. Perhaps you’d be better off recommending people choose SPECIFIC types of SPF30 sunblock, like those recommended by the Environmental Working Group in their Sunscreen guide?

    EWG Sunscreen Hall of Shame

    There are a lot of sunscreens on the market: some good, some bad and then the shameful.

    Those in the last category are not only a waste of money and time but also potentially harmful. Here are our picks for products to banish from your beach bag.

    Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.
    SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
    Oxybenzone can disrupt the hormone system.
    Retinyl palmitate may trigger damage, possibly cancer.