Sun Protection Vitals

Here’s some vital info from the folks at Coolibar …

• Do you know how much sunscreen you need for a one-week family vacation? Answer: 6 to 12 standard 4 oz bottles! Most experts recommend using 1 oz. of sunscreen (a shot glass) per application to cover an adult, and reapplying it every two hours. A family with two adults and two children, in the sun six hours per day (needing three applications of sunscreen, and spending most of their time swimming — needing the sunscreen to protect most of their bodies), would need at least two bottles of sunscreen each day (assuming a standard 4 oz. bottle or tube). So for a six-day vacation, that same family would need at least 12 bottles or tubes. If the family is sightseeing, biking, hiking or golfing, and wearing short-sleeve shirts and shorts, then they need less sunscreen — only 1 bottle or tube of sunscreen each day. or six bottles for the six-day vacation.

• Do you know that normal summer clothing does not fully protect you against the sun? This is particularly true for people with very fair skin and for lightweight summer clothing. In fact, a comprehensive analysis of the UV protection provided by regular summer clothing was published as a study in 2002. Scientists tested 236 different garment fabrics. They found that fewer than half the fabrics analyzed provided as much protection as a SPF 30 sunscreen. They concluded it was difficult for sun sensitive consumers to choose the “right” garment unless garments were tested and labeled in accordance with appropriate standards.

• Do you know that in Australia, certified sun protective clothing is more popular than sunscreen? Australia has had significant public health issues with skin cancer. One result is that all clothing labeled “sun protective” is regulated by a Federal agency — one similar to the EPA in the US. Over 2 million garments each year are tested in a Federal government laboratory and are given garment hang tags with serial numbers. The combination of ease of use and government-certified protection has proven so popular in Australia that the market for sun protective clothing is now bigger than the sunscreen market.

Do you know that skin cancer can kill you? Many people believe that skin cancer is a relatively harmless disorder — visit your doctor, have it removed, and life goes on. However, approximately 10,000 Americans were killed by skin cancer last year. Approximately 8,000 of these deaths were from malignant melanoma; while the remaining 2,000 deaths mostly resulted from squamous cell carcinomas. The biggest danger is letting skin cancer go untreated — if you are not sure about a mole or freckle that has changed in some way, you should always make an appointment and have it examined by a physician.

Coolibar is an Australia-based company that manufactures a full range of sun-protective clothing, including for kids: clothing, hats, swimwear and sunglasses. Their products are distributed in the U.S., and can be ordered online:; 1-800-926-6509.

DaRiMi Kidz was also started by two moms in Australia. They offer a Sun Busters line of hats and swimsuits with an ultra-violet protection factor of 50-plus, wet or dry. For ages 6 months to 10 years old, the products range in price from $18 to $50. Go to:

And from the American Academy of Dermatology: • Look for sunscreens with broad-spectrum ingredients (providing UVA and UVB protection), including benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone (Parsol 1789)..

• All sunscreens are labeled with SPF numbers. Higher SPF sunscreens offer greater protection from sunburn, which is caused mostly by UVB rays. The sunscreen SPF rating is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce a sunburn on sunscreen-protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin. For example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 would allow that person to multiply that initial burning time by 15, which means it would take 15 times longer to burn, or 150 minutes.

• Because some UV light gets through sunscreens, they should not be used as away of prolonging sun exposure — only to avoid sunburn. And SPF protection does not actually increase proportionately with a designated SPF number. For example, while an SPF 15 indicates 93 percent absorption, an SPF 30 absorbs 97 percent of the sun’s burning rays.

• The SPF number on sunscreens only reflects the product’s screening ability for UVB rays. At present, there is no FDA-approved rating system that identifies UVA protection.

• Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors, and reapplied every two hours. One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly.

• Lips can get sunburned, too. It’s important to apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. • Follow the “Shadow Rule” — if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s damaging rays are at their strongest and you are likely to sunburn.