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:
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.
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.
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.
Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off to summer, and there's a good chance you'll be spending time in the sun and we want to give you a gentle reminder to keep yourself - and your family - protected.
We don't have to remind you of how serious cancer is. But skin cancer is highly treatable if detected early. This is why dermatologists across the U.S. use this month's initiative to encourage people to perform self-checks all summer long.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that people perform a thorough, step-by-step self-examination every month, so you can find any suspicious marks or growths. Of course, if you spot anything suspicious, see a doctor.
Early detection of a new mole or skin growth can mean the difference between a quick procedure and something potentially more serious. Remember, self-examination is only the first step. So, check early and often, and contact a doctor if something doesn't seem right.
Speaking of which, visiting the dermatologist to check for skin cancer qualifies as an FSA- and HSA-eligible service, since it would be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent a medical condition.
Take advantage of free skin cancer screenings
If you can't get a dermatologist appointment in your town (or wherever you're spending the summer) within a reasonable amount of time, some doctors volunteer their time to offer free screenings throughout the year.
Programs like SPOTme, run by the American Academy of Dermatology, are available in many different locations, and can give you a thorough body check in a private setting, usually in a location nearby.
Prevention starts with you
Regular checks for skin cancer are vital, but don't overlook proper year-round sun care. If you want to use your HSA to help offset the costs of necessary sun protection products, you can pick up a wide range of HSA-eligible sunscreens, lip balms and more from our store!
Travel season is coming! And those vacation days you've been saving up all winter are ready to use. It's time to get on a plane and go somewhere fun while the sun is shining and the weather is warm.
Though you can't use your flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for the trip itself, you can use it to cover the costs of necessary travel vaccines for your summer vacation, no matter where your journey takes you.
When traveling to a foreign country, there's often a list of both recommended and mandatory shots that you, as the traveller, have to get before takeoff. Different countries are hosts to different things -- food, water quality, plant life and more. Depending on where you're headed, appropriate immunizations can protect you from potential diseases that can come from being exposed to things your body isn't accustomed to.
According to IRS Publication 502, qualified medical expenses include the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. As a result, these immunizations qualify as FSA-eligible expenses.
So, what does this mean for you?
Let's lead with an example. If you're traveling somewhere in the mountains of Japan, then you need to make sure you get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine. If you're lounging on the beaches of Costa Rica, then you need to get a typhoid vaccination before buying those plane tickets.
Different travel destinations require different vaccinations, so make sure to check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health page to see what type of vaccinations are needed (or recommended) for your getaway.
The CDC recommends making these appointments 4-6 weeks prior to your travel date because some vaccinations require more than one shot, or take time to reach full effectiveness.
I'm traveling with my family. Are their immunizations covered, too?
Yes and no, depending on the circumstances. Here's who's qualified to be covered for travel immunizations under FSA eligibility as defined by Internal Revenue Code 105(b):
- The employee
- The employee's spouse
- An employee's child through the age of 26
- An employee's qualified tax dependent
Vacations are as much about relaxation as they are about sightseeing. To give yourself that peace of mind, before you book that international getaway, be sure to make those doctor's appointments and get the proper immunizations.
(And while you're at it, make sure to get some FSA-eligible sun protection along the way.)
From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Memorial Day weekend has arrived, and if you're like us, you're spending it enjoying the sun. So, before heading out for a day of picnics and barbecues, let's go through a few FSA-eligible items that will give you a little extra comfort during your days outdoors.
Anyone at a holiday barbecue knows it can be a calm, relaxed get-together … or you can attend one with kids. And once your kids are there, getting them to slow down for even a minute can be tougher than herding cats. This doesn't change the fact that kids need all-day sun protection when outdoors.
Our selection of spray-on sunscreens offer a wide range of benefits over traditional sunblock creams and lotions. For starters, they're much easier to apply on the go, so your kids don't miss out on any fun, and you don't spend half your day with lotioned hands, struggling to turn a doorknob.
Most importantly, these sprays are equally effective on wet or dry skin, so you don't need to worry about endless re-applications if the kids get sweaty or jump into the pool (five or six times). Instead, these sprays form an immediate breathable barrier for broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
Sunscreen is great, but sometimes you miss a spot. If you get a little too much sun (or if the sun gets a little too much of you) it's good to pack a bottle of sunburn relief gel or lotion.
Plus, some of these lotions can also relieve other skin irritations, scrapes, burns and even insect bites without an ounce of sting.
While many of the products in this category require a prescription to purchase with your FSA, if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors this weekend and find yourself with a sunburn, it's worth speaking with your doctor about whether these products are right for you.
With all the activity at a Memorial Day cookout, you can expect some scrapes to happen. And we're not just talking about the kids -- backyard sports, grilling mishaps and other accidents can happen to anyone. That's why people carry a few spare bandages with them everyday.
Well, we recommend having a little extra reassurance for summer activities. Waterproof bandages offer the same level of wound protection, but also help keep pool water, muddy puddles and other seasonal splashes away from cuts and scrapes, to ensure nothing gets in the way of proper healing.
There are plenty of ways to make outdoor fun even better with your tax-free FSA funds. But the three links above should give you a head start on a safe, sun-protected summer for your entire family.
Children's sunscreen stays on strong for those days at the beach, park or wherever else life takes you. We've got your little one covered.
Stop sunburn pain with FSA-eligible aloe vera that soothes the skin after a day out in the heat.
Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
When you think of sunscreen, what usually comes to mind? Days at the beach, long summer afternoons or those irritating sunburns when you forget to apply? While most people reserve their sunscreen use for the warmer months, in reality the danger of the sun's rays is ever-present during any time of the year!
As this winter gets into full swing, don't let your family's sun care regimen fall by the wayside. While you may not think that the sun is a major factor in the winter months, you absolutely need sun protection when outdoors for long periods of time during the winter. Here are a few reasons why you should use your FSA card to stock up on sunscreen for the whole family in 2017.
- 80 percent of UV rays can penetrate clouds
While it may be more overcast and cloudy during this time of year, don't become complacent with your sun care regimen when venturing outdoors. Cloud cover does not guarantee that the sun's most damaging rays, and the American Academy of Dermatology reports that up to 80 percent of UVA and UVB rays can pass through clouds and be absorbed through the skin. UVA rays penetrate deeper through the top skin layers to cause premature signs of aging, while UVB rays are the primary cause of sun damage and can contribute to skin cancer formation. Even when it's cloudy, use an SPF 30+ sunscreen on exposed skin!
- Make the switch to mineral sunscreen
Are you using chemical sunscreen or mineral (physical) sunscreen? If you're looking for the best year-round protection, mineral sunscreen is the best option. Chemical sunscreen usually consists of UVA and UVB blockers and can be harmful to the skin with repeated use, as opposed to true broad spectrum coverage offered by mineral variants. While they may take a bit longer to apply, mineral sunscreen that contains helpful ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide works for much longer and requires less re-application.
- Practice proper lip care
Dry skin is far more susceptible to the sun's rays, and chapped lips are extremely common during the winter months. As the season gets underway, make sure your lip care regimen is up to par to ensure that you're not putting your lips at further risk of sun damage. Better yet, opt for a lip balm that has SPF protection in addition to skin nourishing ingredients. Lip balms with sunscreen rated SPF 15+ are eligible for reimbursement with an FSA or HSA, so use your benefit to cover this winter necessity.
- Enhance your diet
Did you know that what you eat can supplement your skin's natural sun protection and resistance to sun damage? It's true! Natural vitamins and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin E and more can boost the body's ability to protect and repair the skin after being exposed to sunlight. Some foods to keep in mind year-round include citrus fruits, carrots, strawberries, green tea, pomegranates, almonds, red grapes and leafy green vegetables.
Keep your family safe from the sun's rays in any season by shopping for sun protection products for the whole family at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible items to help you maximize the potential of your healthcare benefits.
Your Flexible Spending Account can help with early melanoma detection. Visit a doctor or shop for Flexible Spending Account sunscreen to protect your skin.
May is known asNational Melanoma/Skin Cancer Awareness and Prevention Month, and your Flexible Spending Account can help with early detection of this prevalent cancer type. Melanoma (or skin cancer) isthemost common form of cancer in the U.S.affectingmillions of people each year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Curious to learn more about skin cancer, and its prevention and detection? The American Academy of Dermatology offers some great tips on properly applying sunscreen, having someone screen your back for possible abnormalities, and early detection and prevention methods.
How canyou reduce your risks for melanoma?
- Perform self checks by looking for abnormal moles or growths on your skin. If you spot something unusual,visityour doctor and ask more questions. You can use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to visit thedoctor. An FSAcancover the out-of-pocket costs including a co-pay or deductible for that visit.
- Visit a dermatologist. Dermatologists are covered by your Flexible Spending Account (FSA), and would be able to screen and treat your body to detect any abnormalities.
- Get skin cancer screenings. Use your FSA for these health screenings.
Flexible Spending Account Sunscreens and Sun Protection
- Wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher, ideally) and protective clothing/accessories like wide-brimmed hats. Proper sun care is important year-round, and important on a daily basis. Wear daily sunscreens to reduce your risks - even on cloudy or rainy days.
- Avoid sunburns whenever possible by limiting your direct exposure to the sun, and reduce your risk for melanoma by avoiding indoor tanning.
- If you're a parent, make sure your kids are sun safe (wearing sunscreens outdoors and wearing protective clothesand hats), and if you have babies, keep them out of direct sunlight and exposure. You can also shop for kids' sunscreen or baby sunscreenswith your Flexible Spending Account.
- If you're going to the beach or know you'll be exposed to direct sunlight for a longer period of time (on a hike, visiting a lake, etc.), ask a family member, friend or partnerfor help in applying sunscreen. It's tough to apply sunscreen to your own back, which is the most common melanoma location on the body(according to the American Academy of Dermatology).
You can shop for Flexible Spending Accountsunscreenat FSA Store.
Spring is the best time of the year to enjoy outdoor activities, and your Flexible Spending Account can play a role in creating your skin care routine.
Having a good skin care routine can make all the difference year-round, but as spring comes into bloom and summer approaches, it's especially important to revisit. Skin care involves proper sun protection, fighting potential acne breakouts, and making sure you stay hydrated. Your Flexible Spending Account can definitely play a role in creating your skin care routine. Skin care is important year-round, but especially so in the warmer months when we spend more time in the sun.
Even if you're not headed to the beach (Memorial Day weekend is coming up!) or going on any big outdoor adventures, WebMD has a good guide that provides tips on daily skin care.
5 Skin Care Tips with your FSA
1. Lip Balm with SPF
As it gets warmer, be sure to keep your lips hydrated with water resistant, soothing lip balm anywhere you go - the beach, camping, while jogging, or even on your way to work or the park.Lip balm (with SPF) can offer UVB protection against sunburn, and UVA protection for anti-aging and skin damage.
Shop for Sun Protection lip care at FSA Store
2. Sunscreen for Face
While brushing your teeth or applying deodorant are daily morning rituals, using sunscreen for your face should be one, too. Did you know you should wear sunscreen every single day (whether it's a cloudy or sunny day, or whether you're spending time indoors or outdoors?) to protect your skin? Often, people only think about sun care when they're headed to the beach, or when they know they'll be in the sun for a long time, but skin care - wearing sunscreen - is important every day.
Luckily,you can shop for sunscreen for your face with your Flexible Spending Account!
Shop for Sun Protection at FSA Store
3. Fight acne
While many people deal with acne breakouts throughout the year, the warmer months seem to bring these out even more. As you're spending time outside, and sweating more, your skin is dealing with the temperature change and responding to that.
Your Flexible Spending Account can help with all types of acne treatments - both non-prescription and prescription treatments.
One popular product at FSAstore.com is the reVive Acne Light Therapy treatment. This non-UV (LED), natural light therapy targets bacteria in the skin, can help reduce flare-ups and aims to bring back clear and radiant skin. reVive Acne Light Therapy treatment is light enough to carry with you while traveling and even comes with a travel bag, detachable cord and safety goggles.
Shop for reVive Acne Light Therapy
4.Wear protective clothing & accessories
Just like wearing sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, and acne treatment can help take care of your skin, wearing protective clothing and accessories can, too. If you know you'll be in direct sunlight (at the beach, while running or playing a sport, camping, etc.), be sure to wear a hat, breathable clothing, and sunglasses to protect your eyes.
If you know you're going camping or hiking, there is even special sunscreen with bug repellent (that's covered by an FSA), so you're effectively protecting your skin from the sun and from bugs.
If you know you're going to be active (swimming, jogging, biking, hiking, etc.), there is also specially-designed sunscreen for sports that is targeted at being waterproof. You'll still want to re-apply sunscreen if you're sweating or right after you've gone swimming, just to be safe.
5. Stay hydrated
While sunscreen can be a big help for your skin, so can proper hydration and a well-balanced diet. In the spring and summer months, your body will likely demand more hydration, as it gets warmer. Drink water throughout the day (rather than gulping it up when you start to feel thirsty...often, you're already dehydrated by that point). Be sure to eat lots of fruit and vegetables - berries, watermelon, cucumber and peppers come to mind - that contain vitamins and high water content.
Share these tips with your friends and family as they prep for spring and summer!
Sunscreen is an FSA eligible expense, and must be at least SPF 15 and offer protection against UVA and UVB rays. Check out our infographic for a few sun safety tips to safely soak up the sun and shop FSA eligible sunscreen selection for the entire family.