Though I’ve never had skin cancer, I have had actinic keratosis which is a pre-cancerous skin condition from sun damage… just like my dad, although his was pretty severe. It typically affects light-skinned folks. Treatments are not that bad, but it is a long process (over several weeks or months) if you do the light therapy option which may need repeating. You can imagine I’m slathering on the sunblock during the summer to avoid wasting my life at the dermatologist.
So if I can get some sunscreen for free, all the better. I know I’m not alone. Many of your clients may be similarly appreciative, making promotional sunscreen a great giveaway for golf outings, running events, and other outdoor activities during the summer.
Previously, all we cared about was the SPF factor, the higher the better (although after about SPF 50, it doesn’t provide much additional protection). There are two types of rays that can cause damage: UVA and UVB (Click here for great information from the Skin Cancer Institute on the issue). Really, SPF is more concerned with the UVB side of the equation. It’s the UVA rays that are more tricky since they penetrate clouds and glass, are more prevalent, and penetrate skin more deeply . So you need protection from both. Sunscreens that protect from both are called multi-spectrum, UVA/UVB protection, or broad spectrum.
Beginning in summer of 2012, the FDA will be changing their sunscreen labeling rules that have been in effect for over 33 years (yow!). Here’s a summary of key changes:
- The product must specify whether it is a broad spectrum product which covers both UVA/UVB rays.
- Manufacturers will be banned from claiming their products are waterproof or sweatproof, but they will be able to claim how long their product is resistant to water based on test results.
- Only sunscreens of with ratings of SPF 15 or above will be able to claim that their products help reduce risk of cancer or onset of skin aging.
Looking for a non-chemical way to protect yourself? I was surprised to find from the Skin Cancer Institute that bright or dark color, lustrous finish, tightly woven, and loose fitting clothes reflect more UV rays than bleached cotton or pastels. Go figure. Broad brimmed hats and, of course, UV-blocking sunglasses are a must. So as dorky as they might look sometimes, those Gilligan bucket hats are probably a better choice (okay, I admit I’ve got one I wear a lot).
So watch for new labeling next summer. But don’t forget that it’s always sunscreen season. Even in winter it’s a good idea to adopt a “cover me” policy.
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- Read SWAG: How to Choose and Use Promotional Products for Marketing Your Business