With summer finally here, the threat of a sunburn is always looming. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater applied before you head out – and reapplied every couple of hours after that – provides sufficient protection from UVA and UVB rays that cause fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and, yes, painful sunburns.
But, really, using sunscreen on a daily basis is the least you should be doing to prevent the premature aging of your skin and skin cancer. Allure interviewed five melanoma survivors – melanoma is the deadliest kind of skin cancer – and asked them about their sun protection routines. For each, sunscreen plays a big part, but not the only part.
Leah Adams was diagnosed with melanoma in 2019 at the age of 26. In the summertime, she spends a lot of time outside. She runs every day. She also golfs, hikes, and kayaks. Before she does any of that, she applies a sport sunscreen with an SPF of 30 on her legs, arms, back, and chest. On her face, she uses a hydrating mineral tinted sunscreen with an SPF of 30. And she makes sure to reapply every 30 to 60 minutes.
On the sunniest days, Adams also wears UV-blocking clothes.
“The most important thing I do for my skin is going to the dermatologist every three months – since my diagnosis, it is something I do frequently per my doctor’s recommendation,” she says. “I encourage everyone to go to an annual skin check. Skin checks save lives; it saved mine in 2019.”
Jess Gilstrap was 19 when her melanoma was diagnosed. She sees her dermatologist every six months for a full-body inspection.
“In between these, I check and monitor all my moles myself to see if they have changed size or color,” she says.
Sofia B. was diagnosed at 31. Well before then, she was diagnosed with dysplastic nevus syndrome, which heightens her risk of skin cancer.
She makes a habit of mostly staying inside during peak sun-exposure hours, which occur from 11 AM to 4 PM.
“I understand that it’s important to get a ‘healthy dose’ of vitamin D, so I will go out in the sun for short periods of time, but never without applying my favorite sunblock,” Sofia says.
Casey Balkcom was diagnosed with melanoma when she was 28 and pregnant with her son. Today, she prioritizes not only protecting her skin from the sun but her entire family’s. That includes her time inside, too.
“Being in Florida, we are constantly in the sun, even when I am working in my office. So I use a daily SPF moisturizing lotion for my body,” Balkcom says.
When she and her family are outside, which is often during the summertime, they wear sunscreen and UV-blocking clothes. But it doesn’t stop there. They also wear UV-blocking sunglasses and big shade hats. And they sprawl out in a large beach tent made from UPF 50 fabric.