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Story Tools

Date of Issue: June 14, 2007

Sandscript

Skin thoughts as sun and summer approaches

Oh, how we remember the day.

And oh, how we're living through those days.

Years ago we used to go to the beach, slather ourselves with mineral oil to promote tanning, and lay on our towels for hours and hours to bake like the little basted turkeys that we were in the sun.

We were tan. We were rested. We were ready.

Decades later, though, some of us are noticing some unsightly red blotches on our skin.

We've got some nasty bumps.

Perhaps we did a bad thing back then.

But we did it all back then to look good. Today, we're not looking all that great, skin-wise.

And to our credit, our offspring are finding that the dark-skin treatment of yesteryear isn't all that attractive today and, in fact, even being golden brown isn't all that cool.

According to iVillage and the Skin Cancer Foundation's survey, "the appeal of tanned skin may finally be waning - 53 percent of people surveyed believe they don't look better with a tan and 63 percent say they are not more attracted to someone who is tan."

Survey results continue that "69 percent do not think a tan makes them look slimmer."

What a difference a few years makes, eh?

The survey was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media for iVillage in partnership with the Skin Cancer Foundation, according to a press release.

"These findings are encouraging," said Perry Robins, M.D., president of the Skin Cancer Foundation. "Once people stop linking their self esteem to tanned skin, we will really begin making headway in the fight against skin cancer. For now, there is still a lot of work to be done since an alarming number of people never use sunscreen."

For those who care about numbers as we enter our high sun/summer season, 40 percent of people surveyed said they never use sunscreen and 11 percent use an SPF 15 or higher daily.

Sunburns? Survey says that 42 percent of people are still getting sunburned at least once a year.

As the skin cancer group reminds us, "a person's risk for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns."

And we apparently aren't all that smart when it comes to sun stuff.

"The small percentage of people applying sunscreen daily is surprising, given that 58 percent of people say they are concerned about skin cancer," according to the study. "These findings demonstrate a lack of understanding that every day incidental sun exposure, like intermittent, intense exposure, such as on beach vacations, seriously damages the skin over time. But people are getting better about using sunscreen when outdoors - 59 percent of people use sunscreen at least occasionally, a 20 percent increase from a survey done in 2003."

Women are definitely smarter than men when it comes to putting on the goo on the beach: 47 percent of men say they never put on a sun-block substance, while 34 percent of women are in the same category. Both of those numbers are too high, of course.

According to the SCF, and it's good advise, "no sunscreen blocks 100 percent of UV rays and most people do not apply it adequately or frequently enough."

And then there is the issue of clothes. In a few words, they don't work to protect your skin from the sun unless you wear a parka to the beach.

We've been saying for years here that T-shirts are pretty much a Sun Protective Factor of 10. Remember the numbers on you sun goo? Remember how everyone says that you should have at least a 15 factor? Remember the above T-shirt reference to 10?

Oops.

According to the SCF, "an untreated white cotton T-shirt only provides the equivalent of an SPF 5 to 7. Darker, more densely woven fabrics, provide a much higher SPF."

Maybe the 15 factor, or so. Pass the goo.

 

Sun tips

The foundation offers these thoughts for us all to remember this summer.

Seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Do not burn.

Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.

Use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher every day.

Apply one ounce of sunscreen to all exposed areas 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of 6 months.

Examine your skin every month.

See your physician every year for a skin exam.

 

About the poll

By the way, for those who follow polls, the survey included more than 1,000 people, and had a plus-minus accuracy factor of 3 percent and was pretty much evenly divided between men and women.

Those numbers are pretty standard for any survey, for those who don't follow such polling data.

 

Sun stuff

In a word, cover.

With sun goo.

Lots of it.

Often.

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, in her previous life was a nurse and worked with her husband, Dr. Andre Renard, a plastic surgeon who deals with such things as skin care.

Whitmore is also dealing with past indiscretions of spending too much time out in the sun and not bothering with as much sunscreen as she should have.

She said that the key to later-life skin problems is to avoid too much sun when young. Sunburns as youths results in skin problems when old, when she summed it up.

Men seem to have problems with skin cancer on the top of their heads and on the top of their ears, she added, while women seem to have issues with the tip of their noses and their faces.

 

Another tan tip

Want to get tan? Want to look like you've got a tan?

Here's a better alternative: tanning creams.

The products of yore aren't as messy as what's out there today.

Back then, you could figure you'd be pretty much orange before you got done. Today, the color is a light golden tan.

There are also some tanning spray places out there that can give you some color if you so desire, although, based on the survey, a tan color isn't all that attractive any more.

 

Sandscript factoid

So here's the final sun tip for summer.

L'Oreal has a sunblock with an SPF 60. It blocks pretty much everything that could harm your skin, and is a lot lighter than a parka.

Look for something called Mexoryl in the goop, a European product that just got approved for sale in the United States. It's supposed to block all the harmful sun rays from damaging your skin.

It looks to be a bit expensive, but hey - do you know how much it costs to get skin cancer burned off?

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