Living Well

Start your year-round sun care regimen this deadline season

"Do I really need to wear sunscreen all year long?"

We hear that a lot around here. Which is why we're even more motivated to remind readers of just how important year-round sun care really is. Because even though most of the country spends the winter months covered in layers of warm clothing, any exposed skin is still at risk of damage if it's not protected.

Whether it's sun glare from snowy hills, or just raw, irritated skin from bitter air and wind, cold weather months can take their toll. So, we recommend finding a proven line of year-round sun care products to keep your skin safe, even when you think you're completely covered.

MDSolarSciences, founded by noted dermatologist Dr. Robert J. Friedman, is responsible for a growing line of highly effective skin care solutions that can be used year-round to prevent sunburns, skin aging and skin cancers. With the 12/31 flexible spending account (FSA) deadline just around the corner, the company wants to remind account holders about the importance of year-round sun care and to take this opportunity to spend your remaining funds on qualifying sun care products.

What makes sunscreen FSA-eligible? It all comes down to prevention of sunburn and other medical conditions. If a sunscreen is SPF 15+ and offers broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays, it's eligible! Let's dive and learn more about how these products protect your and your family from the sun's rays year-round.

Understanding "broad spectrum"

Ultraviolet light rays that travel from the sun can be classified by their length; the long-wave rays are UVA and the short rays are UVB. Together they make up the spectrum, but individually each damage our skin in different ways.

UVB: Causes burning

These short, intense rays cause painful sunburns on the top layer of skin. In the summer these rays are stronger—and they're also stronger at higher altitudes -- which is why you can get a sunburn while skiing!

UVA: Causes aging

These rays feel less intense than UVB rays that cause sunburns, but they make up 95% of the radiation that reaches the earth. Since UVA rays are longer, they penetrate the skin more deeply, which leads to cumulative damage and noticeable signs of aging like brown spots and wrinkles. While you might not feel these rays burning your skin, UVA rays are consistent throughout the year and can pass through clouds and even glass.

Since we need protection from both types of rays, it's important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen. (It's also a key part in determining which sunscreens are FSA-eligible. Only a broad-spectrum product keeps you safe from both types of rays.)

The mineral sunscreen difference

In recent years, mineral sunscreen has emerged as one of the top eco-friendly sun care products on the market. But how does it differ from traditional sunscreen and is it just as effective?

In addition to having different active ingredients to combat UV rays, mineral sunscreen has a unique texture that is different from chemical sunscreens that feel more like a moisturizing lotion. Mineral sunscreens utilize active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, and as such have a different texture than chemical variants. Dr. Friedman knew the best sunscreen is "the one you actually want to wear," so MDSolarSciences products are formulated to feel truly amazing when on, fitting seamlessly into your everyday skin care routine.

However, the key difference with mineral sunscreen is that while chemical versions are absorbed into the skin, mineral sunscreen sits on top of the skin layers and forms a physical barrier reflecting or scattering the UV rays.

So, they may be safer choices for those with sensitive skin, as well as small children. Lastly, because mineral sunscreen uses active ingredients that are derived from natural materials, it is eco-friendly and safe to wear everywhere.

MDSolarSciences products never use oxybenzone or octinoxate, two chemicals commonly found in sunscreens that can irritate skin and have been proven harmful to coral reefs. Also, MDSolarSciences' proprietary formulations are oil- and fragrance-free, water-resistant and lightweight, and won't leave a white, chalky film like many mineral-based sunscreens.

MDSolarSciences mineral-based sunscreens

MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème SPF 50, 1.7 oz

Lightweight "barely-there" formula goes on silky smooth and blends quickly, leaving a matte finish.

$30.00

MDSolarSciences Travel Bundle (a $101 value!)

MDSolarSciences' trio of bestselling tinted and non-tinted mineral sunscreens effectively protects all skin types from harsh UV rays and premature aging.

$75.00


Yes, you need sunscreen in the winter

Even when it's cold outside, the sun doesn't care that it's not beach season. Snow and ski-related sunburns can be a real problem if you're not careful. But you can keep these problems away if you use a few precautions.

Winter sunburns often happen from the snow itself, because snow is an excellent reflector of sunlight. This means not only are you getting rays directly from the sun, you're also getting UV hitting you from all directions.

Of course, many people think they're safe because they're covered in layers. But don't forget about your eyes and face. Not only should you keep using FSA-eligible sunscreen all year-round, but also protective eyewear. A good pair of snow goggles doesn't just protect your eyes from tree limbs and flying ice. They provide major protection from the intense rays bouncing all around you. And if you're not on the slopes, sunglasses with UV protection are just as important.

Don't forget the UV Index!

According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (EPA), the UV Index is a calculation conducted by the National Weather Service for most ZIP codes across the U.S. to forecast the expected risk of excessive UV radiation.

No sunscreen will be able to block 100% of UV rays, but broad spectrum sunscreens are the most effective in reducing the chance of sunburn and skin damage from prolonged sun exposure. Always use sunscreen when heading outdoors, but another tip to reduce your UV exposure year-round is to check on the UV Index in your area.

Sun Care Center

What is mineral sunscreen?

For some, sustainability is not just a practice, it's a lifestyle they embrace with everything they do, and a key deciding factor in the brands they support and the products they use. So when it comes to sun care, these individuals aren't just applying any old chemical sunscreen, they care deeply about its effect on the environment.

In recent years, mineral sunscreen has emerged as one of the top eco-friendly sun care products on the market. But how does it differ from traditional medical sunscreen and is it just as effective? Let's dive in and find out.

Mineral sunscreens vs. traditional sunscreens

To get the latter question out of the way, yes, both of these sunscreen types will help protect you from sunburn and more advanced skin damage if used as directed. Both will absorb ultraviolet (UV) rays to prevent sunburn, but where they really differ is in their ingredients:

Chemical sunscreens

This type of sunscreen has long been the most widely used sunscreen type and is formulated with chemical ingredients that aren't found in nature. The most common active ingredients in chemical, also known as "synthetic" sunscreens include oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene.

Here's where things get interesting: for these sunscreen to work, the active ingredients have to be absorbed into the skin, which may be an issue with those with allergies or sensitive skin, says Consumer Reports.

While these products have proven to be an effective means of preventing sunburn and skin damage, sustainability issues have arisen in recent years about active ingredients like oxybenzone/octinoxate playing an active role in eliminating coral reef populations through bleaching.

Hawaii even took a major step forward to ban sunscreens with these ingredients in mid-2018 (CNN). While other states have not yet followed suit, it is a trend that bears watching and may induce other consumers to make the switch to natural alternatives.

Mineral sunscreens

In addition to having different active ingredients to absorb UV rays, mineral sunscreen has a unique texture that is different from chemical sunscreens that feel more like a moisturizing lotion. Mineral sunscreens utilize active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, and as such have a different texture and feel a bit lighter on the skin than chemical variants.

However, the key difference with mineral sunscreen is that while chemical versions are absorbed into the skin, mineral sunscreen sits on top of the skin layers and absorbs UV rays in that fashion. So they may be safer choices for those with sensitive skin, as well as small children. Lastly, because mineral sunscreen uses active ingredients that are derived from natural materials, it is eco-friendly and safe to wear everywhere.

Wrapping up...

So which is the right choice? According to the Mayo Clinic, you should always practice year-round sun care with the right sunscreen for your needs, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security! Even with the best product on the market, a combination of shade, sunscreen, clothing coverage and common sense can keep you and your loved ones protected year-round from the sun's rays.

Eligibility

10 ways to spend your FSA dollars by March 15

For many FSA users, 2016 isn't over quite yet! The period between January 1 and March 15 is the FSA grace period (for FSA plans that ended on December 31, 2016), the last chance for millions of FSA holders to spend down the remainder of their 2016 funds before they are forfeited.

Companies have the option of choosing the 2.5 month grace period or the $500 rollover when setting up FSA plans for employees, so if your plan features the grace period, there is still time to spend down the remainder of your 2016 funds before the deadline! Whether you have $600 or $60 left in your account, FSAstore.com can help you spend down your remaining 2016 funds on the eligible products you and your family use the most. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind before March 15 arrives!

  1. Medical/Dental/Vision Care

First and foremost, your FSA is one of the easiest ways to save on medical spending, so whether you've been putting off a physical exam, a dental cleaning or even thinking about LASIK surgery, these are all qualifying medical expenses that can be covered with FSA funds. Before your 2016 plan year comes to a close, use your remaining funds to lay a healthy foundation for 2017!

  1. First Aid Kits

You may have a first aid kit at home, but what about your car, boat or workplace? Accidents happen when you least expect them, so be prepared for the worst wherever you're heading with FSA eligible first aid supplies.

Check Out: Adventure Medical First Aid Kit Comprehensive

  1. Mineral Sunscreen

The sun's rays are dangerous for your skin during any season, so if you'll be spending an extended amount of time outdoors in the coming months, make sure your skin is protected with mineral sunscreen! These products do not absorb into the skin, offer broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays and are ready to protect from the sun as soon as they're applied.

Check Out: La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Face Mineral Tinted Sunscreen, 1.7 fl oz

  1. Sunscreen Lip Balm with SPF 15+

Don't let your lips suffer from a lack of sun protection year-round. Sun care lip balms that contain a sun protection factor of 15 or above are FSA eligible! Apply it before heading outdoors to safeguard your lips from the elements.

Check Out: Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 50

  1. Bandages

Bandages are staples of the modern household that can handle cuts, scratches and bruises large and small. They can also run out fast over the course of the year, so this is the perfect opportunity to plan ahead.

Check Out: Band-Aid Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages 1 In, 100 ea

  1. Neck Supports

Orthopedic neck supports are considered FSA eligible expenses, so if you're traveling in the future or simply need some pain relief when you're lounging around the house, these neck pillows can make a huge difference!

Check Out: IMAK HappiNeck Orthopedic Neck Support

  1. Contact Lens Accessories

In addition to contact lenses being FSA eligible, products like lens solution, carrying cases and other accessories are eligible for reimbursement as well.

Check Out: Bausch and Lomb Biotrue Multi Purpose Solution, 10 oz (Pack of 2)

  1. Eyeglass Accessories

On the opposite end of the spectrum, eyeglass wearers have plenty of care considerations of their own when maintaining their eyewear. Cleaning clothes, eyeglass repair kits and other accessories are FSA eligible, so use your benefit to ensure they're in great shape year-round.

Check Out: Apex Eyeglass Repair Kit Model No : 71013 - 1 Ea

  1. Thermometer

Has your family's thermometer seen better days? These devices have evolved by leaps and bounds in recent years to make taking a temperature easier than ever. Oral, in-ear, forehead and other designs are all eligible with an FSA!

Check Out: Braun Forehead Thermometer

  1. Blood Pressure Monitor

If you or a loved one has a history of hypertension or a family history of heart disease, blood pressure monitoring is a smart choice for future health decisions. Smartphone-enabled blood pressure monitors make it easier than ever to track numbers and share them with healthcare professionals to better realize your long-term health goals.

Check Out: Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Adventure Medical First Aid Kit Comprehensive

Find everything you need to care for a large group on an extended trip.


Eligibility

Getting Ski Trip Ready with your FSA

As the last few weeks of winter are among us, you're probably thinking of making a trip to a nearby ski resort before the snow melts. Whether you're planning on making it a day trip or a weekend excursion with the family, it never hurts to be extra prepared. Aside from dressing warm and layering extensively, be prepared to handle anything from getting sick to soreness and bruising from falls and potential accidents.

KT Tape

If you typically have a bad knee, don't let that stop you from having fun out there on the slopes. Bring along some KT Tape to support your joints and get you through harsh cold conditions. KT Tape are adhesives that will help to provide strength and support as you go about your activities.

Back and Knee Braces

Knee and back braces supports are great at preventing injuries, as well as stabilizing areas post-injury so they can heal more effectively. Knee braces are particularly important for skiiers and snowboarders, as these joints see an inordinate amount of strain and can be the first areas that can be injured in an accident, so if you have a history of joint issues, additional reinforcement from a brace is a good idea for your ski outing!

Hot and Cold Packs

Treat all sorts of bruises and pain points after a long day of skiing with a hot or cold pack that's FSA eligible. To treat swelling and pain, apply ice for about 15 minutes at a time, then put the cold pack on your skin for 15 minute intervals as well. If possible, make sure to elevate the injured area to promote improved blood flow and overall healing.

Moisturizers

Injuries aren't the only thing to watch for out on the slopes. Keep your skin protected in the dry and often windy mountains. Moisturizing before and after spending a whole day out in the cold is important to keep your skin healthy and to prevent it from cracking and causing pain. If you have a medical condition, you can even use your FSA for prescribed moisturizing products like those used for eczema relief.

Mineral Sunscreen

While it may not feel like it in the midst of freezing temperatures, the sun's rays are still just as dangerous during the winter as they are during the summer months. UVA and UVB rays are still a factor even on cloudy days, so make sure you protect your skin before you hit the slopes. Mineral sunscreen is the best choice for skiing, as it stays active after being exposed to snow and sweat and provides broad spectrum protection from UVA/UVB rays. Also remember that sunscreen SPF 15+ lip balms are FSA eligible, too.

For everything you need to keep your family healthy this winter, shop at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible items to keep your family healthy year-round and maximize the potential of your employee benefits!

KT TAPE PRO, Pre-cut, 20 Strip

Support that will endure your toughest workout.

Eligibility

5 cures for the Valentine's Day Blues (and Potential Use for your FSA, too!)

If you don't have a special someone to spend the day with, cure a bad case of the Valentine's Day Blues with some productive online shopping! Caring about your health is the best way to shower yourself with love this holiday. There are many ways to pamper yourself this day and feel like the best and most confident you yet.

Put on that Sports Gear and Get Active

Did you purchase a new set of activewear that you have been itching to show-off? Perhaps there's a sport or activity that you used to play or do all the time but haven't had the chance to in a while. Today is as good as any to get out there and take a one day ski-trip, play some pickup basketball, or go for a jog in your neighborhood trail.

Destress and Declutter your Mind

Take this day as a reset button to relax and clear your mind from anything that might have been weighing you down. Sooth aches and pains with a relaxation mask, close your eyes, and settle into a calm with some calming meditation music or natural sounds. A slower tempo music can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed.

Cleanse and Moisturize for a Healthy Skin

Taking care of your skin can give you a glow that's not just skin deep. Part of feeling good is waking up to a fresh and healthy skin, especially in the winter months when it's easy for your skin to dry out and sting or itch a little. Natural toners will give you a pure cleaning that refines pores, and gently remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup residue, giving you an evenly toned and smooth skin to take on the day.

Take some time off

Don't dread the arrival of Valentine's Day when you have the power to turn a negative experience into a positive one! Take some time off around Valentine's Day to visit friends or family members, or use this as your chance to escape the brutal winter weather and head off to a warmer part of the globe! Before you find yourself in a tropical location, however, be sure to use your FSA to pick up mineral sunscreen to protect against nasty sunburns and future complications! These products are active as soon as they touch the skin, provide ample water and sweat resistance and broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays that contribute to the formation of skin cancer.

Avène FSAstore.com Facebook Giveaway

We’re hosting an exclusive Facebook giveaway for Avène! You could enter to win an Avène bundle, to stay sun safe year-round with your FSA!

We’re hosting an exclusive Facebook giveaway for Avène! You could enter to win anAvène bundle, which consists of the following products:

-Mineral High Protectin Tinted Compact SPF 50+ - Beige

-Mineral Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ (face & body)

-Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ (face)

-Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion Spray SPF 50+ - Travel Size(body)

Did you know your Flexible Spending Account covers products including sunscreen with an SPF 15+? It does, and one sunscreen brand, Avène, is sold at FSAstore.com.

Learn more about Avène

Stay sun safe year round with your Flexible Spending Account. Avèneis not only ultra light, but this 100% mineral sunscreen provides broad spectrum sun protection from UVA and UVB filders. Avène is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It also contains powerful antioxidant and soothing relief through AvèneThermal Spring Water. ThisAvène sunscreen provides water resistance for up to 80 minutes and hydration. It's suitable for sensitive skin (allergenic, as well) and for the entire family (babies 6 months and up).Avène is paraben-free, fragrance-free, oil-free and chemical filter-free.

It's recommended that sunscreen is applied both generously and at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure. Sunscreen should also be re-applied every two hours, or after 80 minutes of swimming or perspiring.

How can you enter to win the Avène sunscreen bundle?

Likeus on Facebook and following the instructions for the Avène sunscreen bundlegiveaway. The photo submission with the most “likes” wins (all photos will be uploaded to an album created by us, where the winning photo can be voted on), so it’s greatto get your family and friends voting for yourphoto. We can’t wait to seewhat you’ll share with us on Facebook.Thecontest is open to U.S. residents only.

This contest ends December 19 at 5 pm ET! We look forward to your submissions! Do you think someone else would be able to benefit from the contest? Share it with a friend! Good luck to all!