Solstice, schmolstice; in my opinion, summer starts on Memorial Day weekend. (Not that we won’t take the opportunity to remind our dear readers about summer sun protection on June 21.)
That’s why I love that the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has declared the Friday before Memorial Day weekend “Don’t Fry Day” (#DontFryDay). It’s a reminder to everyone heading outdoors over the holiday to be sun-safe and avoid burning or tanning.
I’m planning on spending the weekend catching up with friends and enjoying New York’s beautiful parks. I can pretty much guarantee I’ll have the following interaction:
One of my friends will say, “I’m letting my skin burn today so it will turn into a tan for the summer.”
If my husband is nearby, he’ll shoot me a look that means, “Don’t start.” BUT I CAN’T HELP IT. My four years of working at The Skin Cancer Foundation will compel me to launch into my talking points, which go something like this:
“Did you know that, on average, a person’s risk for melanoma DOUBLES if he or she has had more than five sunburns?”
“Getting sunburned on purpose is not a good idea. A ‘base tan’ will not protect your skin — it will actually damage your skin.”
“Here, come sit with me in the shade. Please, use my sunscreen, I brought plenty.”
At this point, heads start to turn because of the urgency in my voice and my husband starts pretending he doesn’t know me. BUT – inevitably, someone will ask me for sun protection advice! And then I’ll happily list everything I’ve learned working for The Skin Cancer Foundation:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is strongest. If I’m outside during the day, I’m always looking for a shady spot underneath an umbrella, awning or tree.
- Clothing can be the most effective form of sun protection. Loosely fitting, long sleeve shirts and pants are my go-to in the summer.
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use sunscreen. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant formula with an SPF of 30 or higher. Make sure the label says, “broad spectrum” which means it protects against UVA and UVB rays.
- Use enough sunscreen. For effective protection, apply one ounce (two tablespoons, about a shot glass full) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.
Will you discourage your friends and family from frying this weekend? We hope so! If you need help, check out our Prevention Handbook. I’m thinking of making copies and passing it around this weekend. I’m sure my friends would love that.
Don’t be this guy.