Here in the Lowcountry, there can be a false sense of “we know what we’re doing” when it comes to the sun. Most of us know the acronyms UVA, UVB, SPF and the times we’re supposed to avoid the sun’s harshest rays. We live here after all, on this picturesque island situated at 32 degrees north of the equator. Some of us even realize we’re at the same latitude as beautiful Bermuda and toasty Tucson, Arizona.
So why, despite daily UV Index warnings and countless sunscreen options available to us, do we have such a high rate of skin cancer? In statistics released by the federal Environmental Protection Agency several years ago, Beaufort County had the highest rate of new melanoma diagnoses in the state and ranked among the highest 4 percent of counties nationwide.
Skin cancer remains the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, which means we can always use a good review – and some new ideas – for how to stay safe in the sun all year long. This summer, try these tips to get a healthy dose of Vitamin D without risking your overall health down the line.
Be Measured in Your Approach.
You need half a teaspoon of a broad-spectrum (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen in SPF 30 or higher on your face. If you think you’re already using half a teaspoon, measure it and see – ½ teaspoon is a lot more than you might think. And if you’ve actually only been using half the recommended amount, you’re left with about an SPF 8 on your face, which Lowcountry residents already know is not nearly enough. Just one of your beauty products – moisturizer or foundation – needs to have that amount of coverage. (So don’t think you can use an SPF 15 moisturizer and an SPF 15 foundation and be adequately covered. SPF’s potency numbers don’t add up; they only decrease – every minute they’re on your skin.) And when applying, don’t forget your ears and neck!
Think In (Sun)Blocks of Two.
You have to reapply all your sunscreen every two hours, or it won’t do its job properly. That includes the SPF on your face, regardless of how much makeup you’ve put on over your initial sunscreen application. The good news is there are plenty of products out there to help keep you shine-free, luminescent and safe, so look for sunscreen sprays, compacts and pressed powders that have an SPF 30 (or higher) built in and are perfect for helping to stave off wrinkles, sun spots and, most especially, the big C.
Avoid Melting Makeup.
Longtime locals know the beach isn’t the place for a perfectly made-up face, but there are plenty of Southern belles who won’t leave the house without their “face” on. While that’s easier to do in the winter, these sweltering summer months of high humidity and dangerous UV Index levels make it tough to save face. We suggest you skip the foundation in favor of tinted moisturizer (with SPF 30 or higher) and bronzer. There are lots of BB creams on the market now, so look for one in your skin tone with broad-spectrum coverage. In general, follow the workout makeup routine – BB cream with SPF, eyeliner in a nude color, clear mascara, and finish with lip tint or tinted lip balm with SPF. And pack plenty of blotting papers in your purse – a Lowcountry lady’s best friend this time of year.
Apply the App.
Technology has made everything easier, including minding your sun exposure. The D Minder app (available for Android and Apple devices) tracks your Vitamin D exposure and warns when you’re reaching your prescribed UVB limits (and are in danger of sunburn). It also tells you the current UV rating in your area. There are other sun exposure apps out there too, so find the best fit for you and stay safe under that unrelenting Lowcountry sun.