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Over the past three decades, more people have died from skin cancer than all other types of cancer combined. It is estimated that 9,730 deaths will be attributed to melanoma in 2017 alone. We all know how important it is to protect our skin while outside — whether on a hike or lounging by the pool — but do we know how safe our skin is while traveling in a car? While it is rare to get sunburn through automotive windows, harmful UV rays can still reach those on the inside.
One way to protect your skin while in a car is to apply window film to your vehicle’s windows. Every state has laws to dictate how much tinting is allowed on each window of a car.
The following chart, provided by our friends at Rayno Window Film, makes it easy to understand the state-by-state window tinting laws and regulations, and can assist you with applying window tinting to your car to help reduce sun exposure.
Many consumers don't stop to think about the products they use every day. Unfortunately, many consumer products, from make-up to cleaning supplies to plastic food containers, contain substances that can be harmful. Absorbing harmful chemicals through skin contact can be even worse than ingesting them, because when you ingest them, at least you have the enzymes in your digestive system to break them down.
An FDA survey found that up to 25% of people have had a skin reaction to a skincare or beauty product. Allergic or irritated reactions to these products can cause redness, swelling, hives, itching, and other effects. Everyone finds different ingredients to be allergenic for them, but three of the most common are parabens, formaldehyde, and sodium lauryl sulfate.
Virtually every personal care product that contains water will have some type of preservative in it as well. Parabens have been used as a preservative in personal care products since the 1950s. The most common products to contain parabens include lotions, make-up, shaving cream, and hair care products. Unfortunately, parabens can cause allergic reactions for some people. Furthermore, parabens are thought by some to act as endocrine disruptors. What this means is that parabens act like estrogens in the body. This could affect fertility, hormone balance, and risk of breast cancer.
Formaldehyde is a substance found in tiny amounts in humans, plants, and animals. However, in larger amounts, it can be very harmful. The FDA has found that nearly 1 in 5 cosmetic products contains this carcinogen. The Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry has stated that formaldehyde exposure can cause irritation of the eyes, ears, nose, throat, upper respiratory tract, and skin. Even very low concentrations of formaldehyde have been known to cause allergenic symptoms.
Nearly all nail polishes contain notable amounts of formaldehyde, as well as Brazilian blowout treatments. However, product labels do not always list formaldehyde, even if there is formaldehyde in the product. This is because some manufacturers use "formaldehyde releasers". There are chemicals that, when you add them to water, decompose slowly to form formaldehyde molecules. Formaldehyde releasers include DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, bronopol, 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, and Hydroxymethylglycinate.
Sodium lauryl sulfate is a foaming agent. Therefore, it's found in a majority of commercially available soaps, shampoos, and toothpastes. Although it is effective for creating lather and for cleaning, it's also extremely harsh and irritating. Sodium lauryl sulfate can cause damage to the skin, eyes, and hair.
Using non-irritating, hypoallergenic products can make a world of difference to your skin's health. When your skin isn't irritated or stripped of its natural moisture, it can function properly and have a healthy glow. Consider making a switch to more natural products such as the following:
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, strikes about 70,000 Americans each year and kills nearly 10,000, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sadly, many of those deaths could probably be prevented because melanoma is highly curable when caught early.
One famous example is Jamaican performer Bob Marley, who was felled by brain cancer in 1981 when he was just 36. The cancer spread from a melanoma on his big toe. It was initially misdiagnosed as a soccer injury and when the true nature of the problem was eventually discovered, his fate was already sealed, explains an article on repeatingislands.com.
Whether they play soccer, golf or baseball or just like to run, outdoor enthusiasts in Arizona are at higher risk for skin cancers because it’s easy to spend lots of time in the sun during all seasons. While most of the attention is on summer sun exposure, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends people thoroughly inspect their skin every month looking for suspicious lesions or blemishes.
If you find a mole or other skin issue that appears abnormal or causes you concern, schedule a consultation with a medical professional for a screening.
Here is some additional information about protecting yourself against skin cancer.
Sunscreen doesn’t cause cancer
Some people claim chemical ingredients in sunscreen are actually harmful and can cause cancer. But there is no research to support this idea, Wu notes. With tens of millions of people using sunscreen regularly, there would be some evidence if it were really harmful. On the other hand, countless studies document the benefits of using sunscreen.
Time your exposure
If you enjoy outdoor sports or jogging, being active at the right time of day can reduce your sun exposure.
“Try to plan your runs during hours where sun is less intense, such as early mornings or late afternoons or evenings,” advises Carly Benford. In addition to being an avid runner,
Benford is the research coordinator for a clinical trial for melanoma research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute. Benford says any abnormal changes to your skin could be a sign of skin cancer. She suggests having an annual skin exam from a dermatologist to catch any issues early.
SPF is not enough
Most people think they are protected if they use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF). There are two types of damaging sun rays, Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB), and SPF refers only to UVB protection.
Read the label carefully because you need to make certain you use a sunscreen that also protects against UVA rays. Most dermatologists advise using sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher. Many believe higher is better, simply because people do such a poor job of properly applying sunscreen.
Dark skin is not a protection
The idea that people with tan or dark skin are not harmed by sun exposure is patently false. “Unfortunately, skin cancer is frequently diagnosed later in people of color — perhaps because of the misconception that they are not at risk — so it’s often progressed to a later stage and is more difficult to treat,” says Dr. Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at USC School of Medicine in an article for Reader’s Digest.
Block the sun - Hats, Long Sleeves, Sunglasses
Even the best sunscreen allows some UV rays to get through. “Hats, sunglasses and UV protective clothing are all options, in addition to sunscreen, for protecting yourself from the damages of sun while on a run,” explains Benford. She notes many runners and other athletes don’t use any sunscreen, believing they’ll only be outside for a short time.
Source: Tgen - Translational Genomics Research Institute
Most beauty fans will have a skincare routine they adhere to in order to keep their complexion looking radiant, but a few common mistakes could mean you're inadvertently making your skin prone to breakouts. From exfoliating too much to forgetting to remove make-up before a workout, here are the eight most common skincare mistakes.
Not Removing Make-up Before Hitting the Gym
If you're exercising with a full face of make-up, you risk clogging the pores up with your products, especially as you wipe away sweat with your hands and fingers. Even if make-up is 'non-clogging', it can become irritating to the skin when mixed with the salt of sweat and eventually cause breakouts. Use make-up removing wipes for a quick solution before you hit the treadmill.
Waiting Too Long to Tone and Moisturize after Cleansing
If you leave your skin bare for more than 60 seconds after cleansing, you risk dehydrating your complexion as the air sucks the moisture. Try and immediately use an alcohol-free toner and moisturizer, and leave your toner still slightly damp on the skin to keep it protected.
Exfoliating Too Much
While there's no doubt that exfoliation can do wonders for a flawless complexion, too much can have an adverse effect. If you over-exfoliate you actually end up removing your skin's protective barrier, exposing it to the sun damage and bacteria. Try to exfoliate a maximum of two or three times a week.
Forgetting to Remove Make-up before Bed
It's often hailed as the golden rule of skincare, and for a reason. The products begin to clog your pore and oil glands, making them appear larger – plus this can also lead to inflammation. Make sure to wash your face before bed each night to keep your skin looking radiant and healthy.
Only Wearing SPF Products in Summer
UV rays are present all year round and as they travel through glass, you expose your skin even when you're driving in your car or sitting inside near a window. These damaging rays can damage the skin and cause wrinkles, so it's best to wear SPF products every day to protect yourself.
Having Very Hot Showers
Hot water can strip your skin of essential moistures and natural, healthy oils. Instead turn your heat setting to warm so you can avoid damaging your skin.
Not Washing your Pillowcases Regularly Enough
If you go to bed wearing face creams, with wet hair, or with product in your hair, this rubs onto the pillowcase and is then transferred back into your skin as you sleep for the eight following hours, clogging up your pores with bacteria. Change your pillow case at least once a week and wash them in hot water.
Not Treating Blemishes Properly
If you're prone to acne and breakouts, one of the biggest don'ts is to pick at the spots, as you break down the follicle wall and allow bacteria to spread. If you over-wash your face in a bid to cleanse the skin, you also risk removing the oils prompting your skin to produce more oil to compensate, which can actually make the breakout worse.
Hispanic Americans are more likely than other Americans to be diagnosed with skin cancer in its later stages, when it's more apt to be fatal. One reason is the misconception that people with darker skin are immune from skin cancer, researchers say. Another is that public health campaigns tend to focus on lighter-skinned people, inadvertently reinforcing that belief.
"There is an idea among Hispanics that 'People like me don't get skin cancer,' " says Dr. Elliot J. Coups, a researcher and resident member at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. "It's true that they're at lower risk, but they're still at some risk — it's not zero risk. Hispanic individuals can be diagnosed with skin cancer."
The lifetime risk for being diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is just 0.5 percent for Hispanics, compared to 2.4 percent in non-Hispanic whites and 0.1 percent in blacks, according to the American Cancer Society. But 26 percent of Hispanic patients with melanoma aren't diagnosed until the cancer has progressed to the late stages, compared to 16 percent of white patients. That vastly increases their risk of death.
It's not because people from Latin American countries don't realize they need to protect themselves from the sun, Coups says. Instead, his research has found the opposite – that as Hispanic people assimilate to mainstream U.S. culture, they're more likely to put themselves at risk, with behaviors including lower use of sunscreen and sun-protective clothing.
Add that to the fact that the vast majority of public health campaigns link skin cancer risk to skin tone, and it's no wonder many Hispanics think they needn't worry, says Jennifer Hay, a behavioral scientist and clinical health psychologist who treats melanoma patients at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
In 2014, Hay and her colleagues looked at skin cancer education practices in Albuquerque, N.M., where 40 percent of the city's population self-identifies as Hispanic. She found that U.S.-born Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanic whites to report misconceptions like, "People with skin cancer would have pain or other symptoms prior to diagnosis."
They were less likely to have gotten skin-cancer screening from a physician and less likely to wear sun-protective clothing, but as likely to use sunscreen and seek shade as were non-Hispanic whites.
There needs to be an increase in culturally relevant skin cancer prevention campaigns that target ethnic minorities, Hays says. Her current research, conducted in Spanish Harlem in New York City, has found that people do want information on preventing skin cancer.
"What we found is that people are really receptive to this kind of information, but they have not had the kind of access to it that we would like to see," says Hay. "That behooves us as public health researchers to find vehicles and channels to get this information out to more populations who could benefit from it."
That's not to say that skin tone doesn't matter; lighter-skinned people still do face a greater risk. "Latinos have a wide range of skin types," says Hay. "That range of skin type is much more important than whether one self-identifies as Latino or Hispanic. You can self-identify as Latino and still have very light skin."
But Dr. Henry W. Lim, chairman of dermatology at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, says everyone, no matter their skin tone, should practice sun safety. "We should go out and enjoy outdoor activities, but we should try to seek shade and we should wear appropriate clothing to cover up," he says.
Source: Npr.org / Ellie Hartleb
Here's advice from the pros on how to protect and maintain healthy skin.
Pour on the Protection
To ensure she layers on enough sunscreen ("the best way to keep skin youthful"), Garland, TX-based dermatologist Lisa Garner, MD, president of the Women's Dermatologic Society, fills the hollow of her palm (about ½ teaspoon) with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to coat her face, neck, and ears. "I usually have to apply two coats to finish what I've squeezed out, but that's how I make sure I'm covered."
Eat a Skin-Saving Breakfast
The first meal of the day for New York City derm Doris Day, MD, includes almonds. "They contain essential fatty acids, which help put the brakes on inflammation that accelerates fine lines, sagging, and blotchiness." Not feeling like a nut? Salmon, tuna, and halibut are good lunch/dinner sources.
Zen Your Skin
If anyone has stress, it's doctors. High levels of tension can spike hormone production that leads to breakouts or aggravates conditions like psoriasis. "Controlling stress keeps your skin calm—but that's easier said than done," says Annie Chiu, MD, a derm in LA. Taking a 10-minute time-out to apply a face mask and relax on her bed works for Chiu. Another trick: Ban the 'Berry. "I turn off my cell phone after 8 at night. Every little bit helps!" she says.
Develop a Bedside Manner
"I often find it difficult to stick to my anti-aging regimen at bedtime," says Francesca Fusco, MD, an NYC derm. To avoid missing her evening routine, she stores these products in a pretty skincare case she keeps on her nightstand. "So if I've forgotten—or was just too tired to apply products at the sink—I can do it easily while in bed." Her must-haves: Renova (an Rx retinoid), EpiCeram (an ultrahydrating Rx moisturizer), SCO lip balm, Earth to Skin Care Cracked Heel Renewal, Creative Nail Design Solar oil (to soften cuticles), and Listerine White Strips.
Wear Your Veggies
Frozen peas help soothe itchy, irritated eyes for Jeanine Downie, MD, a derm in Montclair, NJ. "Once I get home from work, I remove my skincare and put a bag of frozen peas on my lids for about 5 minutes." The cold helps reduce swelling and pigmentation, a side effect of repeated irritation from her eczema. Unlike inflexible ice packs, a bag of peas easily conforms to the shape of the eyes for a faster effect.
Strike a Pose
Most derms will bend over back-ward for great skin. Hema Sundaram, MD, a Washington, DC-area dermatologist, bends forward. Yoga moves "like Child's Pose, Downward-Facing Dog, and Sun Salutations improve circulation—the boost of oxygen is what gives skin that lovely yoga glow." Another reason to take to the mat: New research finds regular yoga practice may reduce the inflammation and stress that speed skin aging.
Diet soda is a vice that Audrey Kunin, MD, a Kansas City, MO, dermatologist, just can't quit—she downs up to six cans a day. When she realized that all the sodium in soda (anywhere from 25 to 50 mg per can) made her eyes and jawline puffy, she switched to a brand that doesn't punish her skin: sodium-free Diet Rite soda. "It satisfies my cravings and my skin looks much better."
Cut Back on the Sweet Stuff
The breakdown of sugars, called glycation, damages the collagen that keeps skin smooth and firm. To prevent this natural process from careening out of control, Naila Malik, MD, a derm in Southlake, TX, sticks to low-glycemic carbs like whole grains; they're naturally low in sugar, and the body processes them slowly to limit the loss of collagen.
Pump Iron to Plump Skin
"I am religious about strength-training, and I always tell patients to do it more as they get older," says Patricia Farris, MD, a dermatologist in Metairie, LA. The payoff: firmer skin from the neck down, the result of having better, more supportive muscle tone. "It's like adding volume to the face with fillers, except on your body," says Farris.
In her teens, Amy Wechsler, MD, an NYC derm, started drinking green and black tea for the taste. Now she drinks three to five cups a day to safeguard her skin. Research suggests that both types of tea contain protective compounds—like EGCG and theaflavins—that help prevent skin cancers and the breakdown of collagen, the cause of wrinkles.
Myth #1: A suntan's fine, as long as you don't burn.
Reality: While even one sunburn may double the chance of eventually developing melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer), your kids are still at risk even if they never burn. "The more sun you get, the more likely you are to develop certain skin cancers," says Martin Weinstock, M.D., chairman of the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Skin Cancer Advisory Group, no matter what your skin tone. "Any tan indicates damage to your skin."
Myth #2: A beach umbrella blocks the sun.
Reality: Sand reflects 17 percent of UV radiation, so you're still exposed, says Dr. Weinstock. Nevertheless, it's smart to stay in the shade when the sun's rays are high; just make sure you're also slathered with sunscreen.
Myth #3: Sun can't penetrate through windows.
Reality: Glass filters out only one kind of radiation -- UVB rays. But UVA rays, which penetrate deeper, can still get through. That's why many adults have more freckles on their left side than their right -- it's from UV exposure on that side through the car window when driving.
To protect yourself, apply sunscreen to any exposed areas (like your hands, forearms, and face) before getting into your car, especially in the spring and summer months, says Anthony Mancini, M.D., head of pediatric dermatology at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. If you're buying a new car, consider one with tinted windows, which keep out almost four times more UVA light than regular ones.
You don't need to worry about putting on sunscreen when indoors unless you or your child spends most of your time near a window (for example, if your child's desk is right next to one).
Myth #4: Too much sunscreen causes vitamin D deficiency.
Reality: You may have read that extra exposure to sunshine is needed to help your body make vitamin D. But according to the ACS, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF), both kids and adults get plenty of this nutrient through multivitamins, vitamin D-rich foods (like milk and fortified orange juice), and everyday sun exposure. Also, even if you're wearing sunscreen, small amounts of UV rays still penetrate your skin, and that's more than enough to help your body produce vitamin D.
Myth #5: If it's cool or cloudy outside, you don't need sunscreen.
Reality: According to the Skin Cancer Foundataion, up to 80 percent of the sun's UV rays can pass through clouds. This is the reason people often end up with serious sunburns on overcast days if they've spent time outside with no sun protection. Even in the winter months, you need to beware: Snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV rays, increasing exposure. This is especially true if your family's on a ski vacation-- the higher your altitude, the greater your UV exposure.
Myth #6: Eighty percent of sun damage occurs before the age of 18.
Reality: Contrary to previous estimates, recent studies show that we get less than 25 percent of our total lifetime sun exposure before age 18. That means you get the majority of it later on. So while you absolutely should be vigilant about protecting your kids, make sure you take care of yourself, too. While 83 percent of parents arm their kids with sunscreen and protective clothing whenever they're outdoors, only two-thirds practice what they preach, according to a 2005 AAD survey. "Remember, kids don't always pay attention to what you say -- it's more about what you do," says Dr. Weinstock. "If you're making them wear sunscreen but baking yourself, you're sending them a mixed message they may carry into adulthood."
Myth #7: People of color do not get skin cancer
Reality: People of color are less likely to develop skin cancer than Caucasians, but they have a higher risk of dying from it. A very dangerous and fast-spreading skin cancer known as acral lentiginous melanoma is more common among darker-skinned people and may appear as a suspicious growth in the mucous membranes, under the nails, or on the palms or soles of the feet.
Insect repellants affect sunscreen SPF
Insect Repellants reduce sunscreen’s SPF by up to 1/3. When using a combination, use a sunscreen with a higher SPF.
Sunburns increase your skin cancer risk
Over exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can result in sunburns which increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Therefore, check your local UV Index which provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to the sun. The UV Index forecast is issued each afternoon by the National Weather Service and EPA.
Sun's UV rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm
Seek the shade whenever possible! The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. so remember the shadow rule when in the sun: If your shadow is short it’s time to abort and seek the shade.
Choose the right sunglasses
Don’t be deceived by color or cost of Sunglasses! The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens or the price tag. While both plastic and glass lenses absorb some UV light, UV absorption is improved by adding certain chemicals to the lens material during manufacturing or by applying special lens coatings. Always choose sunglasses that are labeled as blocking 99-100% of UV rays. Some manufacturers’ labels will say “UV absorption up to 400nm.” This is the same thing as 100% UV absorption.
Protect your skin all year long
Sunburn doesn’t only happen during the summer! Water, snow and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn. Protect yourself year round by using sunscreen with protection from both UVA and UVB rays, and an SPF of 15 or greater. Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen on the exposed areas of your skin whenever possible
Skin care and sun safety is as important in winter as it is in summer. You can still get a sunburn on an overcast day because 80% of the sun's UV rays can pass through the clouds. UV rays are invisible and UVB rays are the primary cause of sun burning, premature aging of the skin, and the development of skin cancer.
If you are planning on hitting the slopes for some skiing or snowboarding, it is even more important to cover up and wear sunscreen because snow acts like a mirror and bounces UV rays up towards your face.
Did you know:
Source: University of Utah Health Care
Hopefully, the tips in Part 1 has helped your skin and hair remain healthy during this chilly and dry winter. Here are some more tips to help you through the winter and into the new year!
A dried-out scalp produces fewer oils, which can make hair full of static. Don't skimp on conditioner, and simulate natural scalp oils by combing a bit of vitamin E oil through the hair before bed to replenish moisture. Need a quick fix? Run a bit of lotion through strands or run an unscented dryer sheet (really) over the hair before heading out the door.
During the winter, stick to cotton hats (which conduct much less static electricity than acrylic and wool).
Keeping a tube of lip balm in an easily accessible pocket is a good first step, but winter winds can take chapped lips to a whole new level. If lips are flaky, take a clean toothbrush and very gently exfoliate the skin to remove excess skin. Slather on beeswax or a lip balm with lanolin (a natural oily wax extracted from sheep's wool!) and keep reapplying throughout the day.
For seriously dry lips, apply honey or Vaseline to the lips for 15 minutes and then remove with a cotton swab dipped in hot water.
Dry air saps the moisture right out of nails and leaves them delicate and susceptible to breaks and tears. Consider adding biotin-rich foods (also called Vitamin B7) to your diet - this essential vitamin helps the body process amino acids and produce fatty acids. Vegetables (including carrots and Swiss chard) and protein sources including nuts and fish are good ways to pack in enough of the vitamin.
The skin over high-pressure joints like elbows, knees, and heels is thicker to cushion the essential bones underneath. It's great to have some extra padding, but ashy, scaly elbows are uncomfortable and unattractive. The key to keeping elbows (and other rough spots) soft is to exfoliate once or twice per week and moisturize every day.
Dry Face / Windburn
First thing's first: During winter, avoid any face products with alcohol, and switch to a milder face wash and a thicker moisturizer. Another good option? Whole grains and aromatic veggies contain selenium, a compound that gives skin the elasticity to make silly faces. Snack on quinoa, brown rice, onions, or garlic when skin gets tight and dry.
Protect sensitive skin by layering on thick face cream with a high SPF - the only thing worse than windburn is winter sunburn. When heading into the great outdoors, dress for the weather with a hat, scarf, and gloves to avoid windburn and prolonged exposure to cold air.