Wearing sunscreen every day, especially if you're outside a lot, can help prevent certain conditions such as premature skin aging, sunburns, and even skin cancer. The risks are serious — skin cancer affects over 3.3 million people each year, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (JAMA) So it's pretty obvious that we'd naturally turn to lotions and sprays to lower our risk. That is, aside from staying out of the sun.
The question is, is it okay to wear sunscreen everyday? Sure, it's a good idea to protect your exposed skin from harmful UV rays, but could daily use be detrimental? All it takes is a quick Google search to find articles that state that sunscreen is ineffective, all the way to claiming that the ingredients can cause you harm.
But it is even true? Does slathering on something that is supposed to help you have the opposite effect?
Let's take a look.
A Peek into the FDA
Believe it or not, sunscreens originally went on the market as cosmetics. However, when these products started making health-related claims like preventing skin cancer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started regulating them as drugs in 1978.
The thing is, sunscreens that were already in existence before 1978 weren't subjected to the same types of testing until the FDA started to regulate their ingredients and usage. In other words, these products weren't subject to the same type of testing as modern drugs. The ingredients in these sunscreens fell into a category referred to as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). (JAMA)
However, with new options like mineral sunscreen and reef-safe varieties, ingredients such as BPA in plastic, avobenzone, retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone in chemical sunscreens have been put under the microscope as to whether the toxicity levels are any cause for concern.
So Are Chemicals in Sunscreens Effective?
The good news is the FDA has wondered the same thing and has questioned whether the chemicals from sunscreens are indeed absorbed into the body and what the possible effects are.
Back in May 2019, a study was published in JAMA where it aimed to answer these questions. The study randomly selected 24 healthy people to use one of four sunscreens. One was a cream, two were sprays and the fourth was a lotion. The participants were told to apply the sunscreens on 75% of their bodies four times a day for the next four days. Then, they had 30 blood samples drawn over the course of seven days.
The study looked at avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule, four common sunscreen ingredients. For all four sunscreens tested, all of them were above the nanogram threshold after the first day, in which the FDA states that the product will then need to undergo a toxicology assessment.
Except for the cream, the nanogram levels were higher than the limit allowed by the FDA. Plus, the levels increased with each passing day, which suggests with continued use, there'll be chemical accumulation in the body.
Is It Bad to Wear Sunscreen Everyday?
To be clear, the study mentioned above is no indication that sunscreen is bad for you, even sunscreen designed for children. It's possible that even with the amount absorbed, it's still perfectly safe to wear it to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. If you think about it, tons of people use sunscreen and there is hardly any data so far that has shown any issues with them. Given that, it's safe to say that the question "is it safe to wear sunscreen every day?" is probably, yes.
That being said, the FDA is still preparing their final recommendation on chemicals found in sunscreens. For now, the FDA's proposed rule is that any sunscreen with trolamine salicylate and para-aminobenzoic acid should not be given the GRAS designation. Plus, since zinc oxide and titanium dioxide aren't absorbed into the skin (rather it sits on it), these inorganic compounds can be classified as GRAS.
What's the Best Way to Protect Myself From The Sun?
You might not be convinced that wearing sunscreen is still harmful and you should forego it altogether. Or you're going to use alternatives like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. However, with lots of new entrants to the market, these types of sunscreens may be less effective than conventional ones — they may be less likely to meet the sun protection rating you see on the packaging. So it's smart to shop around and go with brands that have a long track record of success in protecting from sun exposure using alternative ingredients. (Consumer Reports)
Remember, there is no clear evidence that proves chemicals in conventional sunscreens are bad for you. But if you're still uneasy about wearing sunscreen every day, you can still protect yourself from sun exposure by wearing protective clothing that blocks out the sun, like hats and UV protective clothing or even staying in the shade as much as possible.
Otherwise, think of sunscreen as a supplement to other sun protection methods. If you're inside and thinking "should I wear sunscreen indoors," the answer is it's better to be safe if you're near a window.
When you do wear sunscreen, there are some basic guidelines or best practices to follow to prevent sun damage. As for answering, what SPF I should use, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that everyone wears an SPF sunscreen daily, even children. As long as you make sure that the sunscreen you choose is properly vetted to protect from UV radiation, you should be ready to go.
When applying sunscreen, make sure to cover all of your exposed skin that clothing won't cover — the AAD says most adults need at least one ounce to cover the entire body (don't forget your lips!). Don't forget to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. If you're outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours, after sweating or after swimming — and be sure to read the directions on your bottle! Following these guidelines will provide the best defense against harmful rays and overall UV exposure.
No matter what, it's imperative that you take care of your health and protect yourself from skin damage. It's great you want to spend time outdoors, but you also need to ensure you take the right precautions in place to protect your health for years to come.
Sarah Li-Cain is a finance writer and a AFC (Accredited Financial Counselor) candidate whose work has appeared in places like Bankrate, Business Insider, Redbook, Financial Planning Association, Investopedia and International Business Times. She's also the host of Beyond The Dollar, a show where her and her guests have deep and honest conversations about how money affects their well-being. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, she can be found spending time at the beach with her family when she's not working.
Sunscreen comes in all shapes, sizes, and most importantly, SPF values. When you go shopping for sun protection, you'll likely face a wall of countless SPF numbers emblazoned across colorful bottles, ranging in SPF value from as low as 2 (those with fair skin, beware) to as high as 110. But before you side with a specific brand or a type of sunscreen, you should know what is SPF?
We're going to give you an SPF level breakdown on what SPF in sunscreen is and how it works to help take the guesswork out of your UV protection. (Bonus: knowing what SPF is can make for some impressive poolside conversation.)
What's with all the acronyms?
Science usually has ways of consolidating really long words into things like SPF, UVA, UVB - but don't let these words intimidate you. Let's start here: What does SPF stand for? SPF stands for sun protection factor, and is a relative measurement of how long you are protected from UVB rays. You're probably thinking, "OK, so how about those UVB rays?" We'll get into that next, but let's go in alphabetical order. It's important to remember that the sun is a powerful thing, and its light is made up of different types of rays: UVA and UVB. According to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, these rays are both forms of ultraviolet light that play a role in the damaging of skin, from sunburn to skin cancer formation.
UVA rays affect your skin differently than UVB rays and attribute to things like premature skin aging, also known as wrinkles. UVB rays, on the other hand, cause sunburn and play a crucial role in the cause of skin cancer according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
How does SPF work?
Now that we've gotten the acronyms out of the way, let's hone in on how SPF works. First, you should know that SPF is measured by its effectiveness in blocking the sun's UVB rays, not UVA rays. Remember, UVB rays are responsible for sunburn, which is exactly how SPF gets its number. Let's break it down.
The SPF value represents the factor in which you are likely to burn. In an example used by Skin Cancer Foundation, the SPF number is a multiplier of how long it takes your skin to burn without the use of sunblock. So that means if it takes your skin 10 minutes to burn without the use of sunscreen, then wearing a sunscreen with SPF 30 will take you 30 times as long to burn, assuming you applied it properly (always follow the directions provided by the sunscreen company).
More detail on broad spectrum protection
Getting back to those UVA rays. You may be wondering how the SPF number plays into the protection from UVA rays. That's where broad-spectrum sunscreen comes in. Ensuring you have broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 will mean you're protected from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. Although, that wasn't always the case. According to Skin Cancer Foundation, the FDA "issued new rules for sunscreen labeling," which meant companies had a standard to meet when labeling their products "broad spectrum."
Luckily for tax-free users, eligible sunscreen must carry a minimum of SPF 15 with broad spectrum protection, so the convenience of finding the most-protective UV protection is built directly into tax-free spending.
How does SPF block the rays?
That's the thing, it doesn't. SPF is just the indication of how much protection you will get from that sunblock. (We just went over this.) What does block the rays are the actual active ingredients used in the sunscreen. This is commonly divided into two categories: chemical or mineral. The common active ingredients used in chemical sunscreens (avobenzone or oxybenzone) actually absorb the Uv radiation, break it down, and release it as heat, as described by Live Science.
In comparison, mineral sunscreens which commonly use ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, are (as their name implies) physical minerals that sit atop your skin and physically reflect the UV rays. Sure, it doesn't sound nearly as scientific, but it is effective and a great alternative for those who have sensitive skin and are interested in more environmentally conscious options. Find which sunscreen is right for you and stick with which protects you best.
Does a higher SPF block more rays?
Technically, yes. Sunscreens do their best to block as many UVB rays as possible, but no sunscreen blocks 100 percent of all UVB rays. As determined by ConsumerReports.org, sunscreens with high SPF values of 100 and more, may not be more protective than an SPF 30 or SPF 50, which already blocks 97-98 percent. There's also the risk of entrusting higher SPF values to protect you for longer than lower SPF numbers, which can put you and your loved ones at risk of UV damage.
The sun doesn't deserve all this bad rap though. While its UV rays can be harmful, moderate amounts of exposure to sunlight is beneficial to your health. You may have heard that sun exposure is important for the production of vitamin D, which is true! According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, it only takes about 10-15 minutes of exposure to the sun on the arms, legs, abdomen, and back, two to three times a week to benefit from the sun's rays. The Foundation also explains that UVB rays are responsible for "triggering vitamin D production in the skin." While SPF indicates the protection from UVB rays, there's no proof that shows higher SPFs can diminish your body's ability to maintain vitamin D sufficiency.
ABCs of SPF
From SPF to UVA and UVB, the most important takeaways you should have on your next sunscreen purchase should include: broad spectrum, a minimum SPF 15 value, and most importantly, follow the directions! Don't be fooled by high SPF numbers and always remember to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day! Now take what you've learned about SPF and impress a friend or two next time you're poolside.
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The sun plays a very important role in our everyday lives. It helps keep our sleep pattern on track and helps our bodies produce Vitamin D, which is important for bone function and healthy skin. But like most things, it's only good in moderation. And for those who love the sun, you probably have a hard time accepting that.
The truth is, too much sun exposure is harmful to your skin, which is why we require protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Deciding how much and what kind of protection you need depends on many factors. That's why we've put together an easy guide to help you choose the right protection.
All about UV
When considering sun protection, it's probably best to understand what exactly you're protecting yourself from. The sun's rays are made up of UVA and UVB rays, both of which can cause skin damage, but in different ways. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UVB rays cause sunburn and play a crucial role in the cause of skin cancer. While UVA rays are responsible for that glowy tan you're after, they're also wreaking havoc on your skin causing damage via aging and wrinkles.
A sunscreen's SPF protection refers to the protection it provides from the sun's UVB rays. So you're probably wondering, "What about UVA radiation?" That's where broad-spectrum protection comes in. Sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection do their best to block the entire spectrum of UV rays emitted by the sun, which is especially important when considering the harm UVB rays and UVA rays each cause.
Now that you understand what you're protecting yourself from, let's take a deeper dive into the pool of SPF so you can better understand which SPF number is right for you.
Shining a light on SPF
Not all SPFs are treated equally. So, before you ask yourself which SPF you should use, let's talk about what SPF is. The first question to consider is: what does SPF stand for? SPF is short for "sun protection factor," which indicates the effectiveness of a sunscreen vs. not wearing sunscreen. Sunscreens have many different SPF values from as low as 4 to as high as 110.
Understanding this value and what these numbers mean is essential to choosing the right SPF. According to MadeSafe.org, SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays, and SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays, but no one sunscreen blocks 100%. This also does not mean a higher SPF number provides longer UV protection. I know, we promised this was going to be an easy guide, but bear with us, this part is important: SPF 30 and SPF 80 both last the same amount of time, they just offer different degrees of protection within that time frame. That's why questions like when, how much, and how often you apply sunscreen are key.
So how much is enough sunscreen?
Great question. The answer is: it depends. To practice safe sun exposure, we recommend following the instructions provided by your sunscreen product; however, there are some hard and fast rules that apply to good skincare practice.
According to QSun.co, a good rule of thumb when you apply sunscreen is "one teaspoon per body part" of exposed skin. No one expects you to bring your baking set to the beach to ensure you're accounting for the proper amount, but it wouldn't hurt to measure out a teaspoon of sunscreen in your hand so you can get used to what that measurement looks like.
While this is a helpful tip, it doesn't take into account how body surface area differs from one individual to another. In that case, it's best to make sure no piece of skin goes untouched. Applying sunscreen to dry skin, 30 minutes prior to sun exposure is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. This will ensure that the sunscreen has been completely absorbed by the skin to offer maximum protection against sun damage.
Another tip is to reapply, reapply, reapply. We can't stress this enough. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, one should reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating. We know, it's never convenient to break up a game of Marco Polo to reapply sunscreen, but you'll thank us later when you're not feeling the stinging effect of sunburn while trying to enjoy your s'mores.
Check your sundial
Luckily for planet earth, the sun never takes a day off, but for us, that means the sun is constantly emitting harmful UV rays. Having said that, it is recommended that you wear sunscreen everyday. But when you are spending time outdoors, the sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so your best bet is to make sure you're especially covered during these hours.
Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun's harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, it's especially important to look out for things like snow, sand and water as their reflective properties can enhance your skin's exposure to ultraviolet rays.
SPF by skin type
This leads us to the second-most-important consideration when choosing SPF and that is your skin type. Whether your skin is oily, dark, or fair, you will need to consider which SPF provides your skin with the maximum protection against sun damage.
For those with normal skin (neither dry nor oily) you're in luck. Any sunscreen is fair game for your skin type. You can pretty much pick your preference whether it may be reef safe, mineral, or chemical (we'll get to these in a bit).
For oily skin, you'll want to make sure you get a sunscreen that doesn't pack on the grease. The Healthy suggests finding a sunscreen with "ensulizole as the UVB blocker, since it's the least greasy." You can also consider a powder mineral sunscreen to avoid the greasiness.
For dry skin, try a sunscreen and moisturizer combo. Another option is finding sunscreens with soothing emollients, which according to Healthline, "coat your skin with a thin oily film that seals the water in your skin," thus keeping your skin hydrated.
And then there's acne-prone skin. Have no fear, there's SPF protection just for you. Search for a lightweight moisturizing sunscreen that is "non-comedogenic," which is a fancy word for, "will not clog your pores and cause acne."
If you have particularly sensitive skin, you may even want to seek shade during the sun's high point of the day. Choosing protective clothing to minimize the amount of skin you have exposed to the sun altogether is also a good idea. Plenty of outdoor apparel retailers offer built-in UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
And if you have a history of skin cancer, or may be at high-risk for skin cancer, avoiding excess sun exposure may be best. But in the event you find yourself in the sunlight, the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that SPF 50 may not be enough protection. Consult your doctor about which protection may be right for you.
Chemical or Mineral
There are essentially two different types of active sunscreen ingredients that help prevent UVA and UVB rays, and they are chemical ingredients or mineral (physical) ingredients. Here's how they work:
Chemical sunscreen products use active ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate which according to Piedmont Healthcare, absorbs the sun's rays, converts the rays to heat, and releases them from the body.
Mineral sunscreens "work like a shield, sitting on the surface of your skin and deflecting the sun's rays," according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. These use active ingredients like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide and are typically a good alternative for sensitive skin types or even babies and toddlers.
No matter your desired protection, make sure not to miss the top of your head, ears, and even your lips! The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends a broad-spectrum lip balm with a minimum SPF value of 30 for healthy, sun-kissed lips.
So which SPF is right for me?
You've probably learned by now that there is no one magic number that covers every circumstance, but what you now know are the steps it takes to find out which SPF works best for you when you need it. So the next time you go shopping for sunscreen, find the right SPF by asking yourself the following:
- Who the sunscreen is for (children or adults)
- Skin type
- Sensitivity to sun exposure
- Amount of time you will be spending outdoors
- Your preference for the type of SPF protection (chemical or mineral)
- Lastly, always make sure your sunscreen has not expired
Remember, you can always start with a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF value of 30, which is recommended by dermatologists and research done by credible organizations. (We suggest listening to the pros on this one.) Now put up your broad-spectrum covered feet up and enjoy the great outdoors with peace of mind.
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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!
Summer's here, and that means long days, plenty of sunshine and the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with your loved ones. As you prep for the many adventures ahead, sun protection should be at the top of your list of priorities. But before you reach for that dusty bottle of sunscreen you stored last fall, it may be wise to check the expiration date first!
Is last year's sunscreen still effective?
First and foremost, the best indicator of the current state of your old sunscreen is to look at the expiration date. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, to test shelf life, manufacturers store a product at 40°C with 75 percent humidity; then at 40°C with 25 percent humidity; and then test it at 0, 1, 2 and 3 months.
Stability for three months in these laboratory conditions is comparable to three years in normal environments. In the vast majority of cases, you can reliably expect your sunscreen to last at least 3 years from the date you purchased it and the expiration date is a reliable indicator of its effectiveness.
In addition to the importance of the expiration date, you should also be mindful of the look and feel of the sunscreen to ensure that it hasn't broken down from one season to the next. The Mayo Clinic advises individuals and families to avoid previously-used sunscreens that may have obvious changes in color or consistency, as they may have lost their efficacy over time.
Where should I store my sunscreen?
At the end of each summer, most sunscreen is tucked away underneath the bathroom sink or stored in a closet, which may not be the best location for extending their shelf life. According to Drugs.com, sunscreen should be stored at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, it should be kept in a dark space to prevent light from causing the ingredients to separate.
So, in most cases, the fluctuating temperature and humidity levels of bathrooms are not the ideal spots for storing sunscreen, so stick with the dark, room temperature closet, instead.
Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen
Protect yourself from harmful UVA/UVB rays in the water and the sun with this sunscreen spray.
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen
This sunscreen has 80 minutes of water resistance, and stays on strong when kids play.
As a new mom or dad, you have a laundry list of infant health issues to be concerned with, but now that we're in the dog days of summer, sun care is likely at the top of your list of priorities. Sunburn is especially dangerous for a child's skin, and the Skin Cancer Foundation reports that suffering one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing potentially-deadly melanoma later in life.
This risk is especially acute in infants, as babies younger than 6 months old should never be in direct sunlight, while infants 6 months and older must be well-protected with sunscreen when outdoors, according to The Mayo Clinic. But how can you pick the ideal sunscreen for your little one? Here are a few key features to look for when shopping for FSA-eligible baby sunscreen.
- Broad spectrum protection
On each bottle of sunscreen there are two important pieces of information to look out for. First, the product is most effective if it offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, which are the primary causes of sun damage. Additionally, the product's sun protection factor (SPF) is significant as well.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that baby sunscreen should be at least SPF 15 to provide an adequate level of protection against the sun's rays (and if using your FSA to purchase the sunscreen, only those that are SPF 15+ will qualify as eligible).
- Chemical-free sunscreens
Chemical-free sunscreens are the better choice for baby sunscreen for two very important reasons. First and foremost, if ingredients in a chemical sunscreen run due to sweat or another form of moisture, they could sting the baby's eyes or could even cause a skin reaction.
Chemical-free sunscreens typically contain active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, and BabyCenter reports that these products have the added benefit of being active from the second they are rubbed onto the skin, as opposed to chemical sunscreens that may need 15-30 minutes to become active.
Now, refine your sun care routine!
When you've found the perfect baby sunscreen, it's important to remember that an infant's skin burns very easily, so you'll need to practice additional sun safety measures. These include:
- Seek the shade: Whenever possible, make an effort to keep your baby in the shade to ensure that he/she will not receive direct sunlight for the majority of your time outdoors.
- Avoid peak sun hours: According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, UV rays are at their most intense levels between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so re-apply sunscreen generously during these hours or keep your outdoor time reserved for the early morning and evening when the sun is not its strongest.
- Invest in sun-protective clothing: In addition to using baby sunscreen, there are a number of great sun protective clothing items that can protect your infant's skin. Tightly-woven or knit clothing, hats and dark/brightly colored clothing offer the best possible protection from the sun.
For everything you need to keep your family healthy year-round, you can rely on FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products to help you maximize the potential of your employee benefits.
With powerful UVA/UVB protection, stay out of harm's way with a wide variety of FSA-eligible sunscreens.
Stay protected in and out of the water with water-resistant sunscreen spray.
With spring here in full swing and summer just around the corner, you and your loved ones' time in the sun will increase significantly and it's time to take the proper precautions. It's a good time to remind individuals and families to be mindful of the risk of the most common form of cancer in the United States - and the most preventable cancer type!
As important as utilizing broad spectrum sunscreens when spending time in the direct sunlight is for preventing skin cancer, regular skin checks are pivotal for early detection. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer growths that are found and removed early are almost always curable, so as the weather gets warm, skin checks are a necessity. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Dermatology that can help you get started!
What to look for
There are 5 key characteristics to look for that could be trouble signs of skin cancer growth. Skin cancer growths showcase asymmetry - or one half is unlike the other half - have an irregular, poorly defined border and varying color shades. Melanomas are typically larger than 6 millimeters, but another warning sign to look out for is a continual evolution in its shape and color that show that the growth is progressing.
Use a full-length mirror
Every skin cancer check should start with a full body exam in a full-length mirror. This will allow you to examine your body from front to back to check for any questionable dark spots or moles that could be the early signs of cancer. Additionally, be sure to lift your arms when checking your sides to ensure an unobstructed view.
Check hard-to-reach spots
One of the risks of melanoma is that it can form on unexpected places on the body, so make sure your skin check is as thorough as possible! Some spots to keep in mind are forearms, palms, the backs of legs/feet, spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
Utilize a hand mirror
Last but not least, there are a few spots on your body that you should closely inspect with a hand mirror. Examine the back of your neck and scalp with the mirror, and part your hair to check the underlying scalp for any marks or imperfections that may be present. This is also a good opportunity to check your lower back and buttocks as well.
What should I do if I spot a growth?
If you spot a growth that showcases the characteristics of melanoma, don't wait! Make an appointment with your dermatologist immediately to have it checked and removed if necessary!
Sun Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Continuous Spray
Protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays while enriching your skin with Vitamin E.
As you probably know by now, sun and skin care is a year-round concern. But you can keep these problems away if you use a few precautions. And sun or snow, you're always at risk of getting rays directly from the sun, and UV hitting you from all directions. Science!
Let's get right to it -- if you're looking for complete, year-round sun and skin care this Supergoop! kit is a great place to start. Inside, you'll find everything you need to easily incorporate sun protection into your day-to-day routine, for complete sun protection throughout your day.
And we mean "complete" -- the set includes: City Sunscreen Serum, Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream, Forever Young Hand Cream, AcaiFusion Lip Balm, Everyday Sunscreen and even a zippered "Hello, Sunshine" pouch.
You might have noticed lip balm in the previous entry - that's because your lips are as prone to sun damage as any other part of your skin. Not only do FSA-eligible lip balms keep them hydrated, but they also offer high SPF protection for the coverage you need year-round.
Australian Gold SPF 30 Lip Balm is comprised of regional fruits, coconut oil, natural moisturizers and more, without using parabens, PABA or even gluten, making it safer for a wider range of users.
If you're looking for complete sun protection without resorting to chemicals and unnecessary additives, mineral sunscreens are a very popular choice. Not just because they're skin- and earth-friendly, but also because they work really well without all the excess you don't need.
Sun Bum's Mineral Sunscreen Spray is an easy to apply, water-resistant, zinc-based spray that provides broad spectrum SPF30 protection, proven to fight off UVA/UVB rays. Environmentally conscious and chemical-free without sacrificing protection? Sign us up.
If you want a little more control over where your sunscreen is applied, take a closer look at the Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen Stick. This lightweight, antioxidant-enriched formula glides on evenly and absorbs quickly to provide broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection while being hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free.
Plus, this light, water-resistant (for up to 80 minutes!), non-greasy formula contains antioxidants and vitamins to soothe and help skin recover after sun exposure.
When it comes to sunscreens, the word "lightweight" is used a lot. And with good reason -- who wants to feel sticky and weighed down, just to ensure sun protection? Most of our available sunscreens are suitably lightweight for almost any user. But then there's the Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc spray, which takes things even further.
This spray blocks UVA and UVB rays while providing 80 minutes of water and sweat resistance. It's also hypoallergenic, suitable for sensitive skin, is kid-safe, free of dairy, soy and gluten, and 100% fragrance-free. In short - if you're worried about a specific irritant in your sunscreen, there's a good chance it's not in Babo Botanicals products.
After getting some sun, it's always good to get ahead of potential skin damage. And if there's any brand synonymous with skin relief, it's Gold Bond. Their Ultimate Healing lotion is specially formulated to help heal extremely dry, rough and problem skin, through seven intensive moisturizers tested to provide 24-hour moisturization.
Plus, it contains vitamins A, C and E to reinforce the healing and repair, but manages to pull it off without feeling greasy or sticky.
If you do end up getting a little more sun than expected, or just have a few winter scrapes, you'll need a quality skin cleanser and antiseptic. Hibiclens is both!. With 24-hour protection (even after drying) Hibiclens kills germs while remaining gentle enough to use everyday, even on sensitive skin.
Whether you have a rough-looking wound or just want some reassurance that a little sunburn doesn't get any worse, this is a great product to have on hand.
Forever Young Hand Cream SPF 40 defends against the signs of UV-induced aging with an innovative blend of antioxidants and super broad spectrum protection. Formulated with omega-7 fatty acids to help lighten dark spots, and skin-nourishing oils, this moisturizer improves skin's elasticity and texture while safeguarding skin from future sun damage.
Speaking of unexpected falls, some can be worse than others. Thankfully, when certain scrapes need more than a standard bandage, there's New-Skin. This liquid bandage goes on smoothly, and dries rapidly to form a tough protective layer that's antiseptic, flexible, waterproof, and allows your skin to breathe.
Just brush on with the included applicator and protect wounds by keeping out dirt and germs that cause infections.
We couldn't resist throwing in one of our hi-tech health products. And we think you'll agree with the choice. Featuring the same technology as dermatologists use in their acne treatments, the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask uses concentrated light therapy to clear acne and allow skin to heal itself.
This one-step acne treatment covers your face and is easy to use. Just sit back and relax for a quick 10 minute treatment, after which the unity will shut itself off. With regular use, you'll see clearer, healthier skin without chemicals or damaging UV rays.
Technically, the beginning of summer is in June, but if you ask most Americans, the real start of summer is Memorial Day weekend! With a long weekend to look forward to, many will hit the road for their first beach excursion, host a barbecue and enjoy time with their friends and family.
No matter where you're headed this weekend, you and your loved ones' health should still be a top priority! Your flexible spending account (FSA) covers a surprising range of products that can help you prevent or tackle possible health issues with ease. When you're prepping for Memorial Day weekend, here's how to use FSA funds to welcome the warm weather season.
- Sun care bundle
Unless you've been working on your base tan all winter long, your skin is far more susceptible to sunburns during the early summer. In addition to being extremely uncomfortable, sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer, so make sure you and your loved ones are protected with sunscreen with broad spectrum protection. Broad spectrum sunscreen blocks out UVA and UVB rays, the primary wavelengths of UV light that contribute to sunburns.
Check Out: MDSolarSciences Bundle "The Sun Never Sets"
- First-aid kit
Whether it's a minor scratch or an injury that may require more advanced medical attention, make sure you have a solution when a sudden emergency rears its head. First aid kits are a great investment in the early summer that you can keep handy around the house, in your car/RV/boat or wherever you're headed to respond confidently when an injury arises.
- Elastic bandages
Going to play a game of pickup football with your friends? Or are you heading on a hike in your favorite state park? Elastic bandages are a great item to have around the house in the case of a muscle or tendon injury, as they can immobilize injured areas so you can heal more quickly.
Check Out: ACE 2" Elastic Bandage with Hook Closure
- Anti-allergy nasal spray
If you're still contending with the worst of your seasonal allergies, be sure to pick up allergy medicine before spending extended time outdoors this Memorial Day weekend. Anti-allergy nasal spray can help you overcome seasonal triggers like tree/grass pollen, mold spores and even indoor irritants like mold and pet dander.(While you're at it, grab some Boogie Wipes for good measure!)
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, YouTube 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.
The headline says "5/4" but we bet more of you are going to celebrate tomorrow, when most of the country will put down their responsibilities and raise a glass to the Mexican Army's difficult victory over the French Empire on May 5, 1862.
(Rumor has it, there might also be some heavy partying.)
No matter what you have for going on this weekend, your FSA can help you ensure your celebration starts safe and stays safe. It might even help you enjoy May 6 as much as the previous day! In this week's FSA Friday, we put aside the news headlines to give you a few tips for enjoying a comfortable, relaxing, FSA-eligible Cinco de Mayo weekend.
It seems like just a few weeks ago, most of the country was still facing the possibility of snowfall. Today, the northeast United States is, once again, preparing for summer-like temperatures, clear skies, and perfect barbecue weather.
But it's been a long winter, and much of the country has been stuck indoors. So, it's probably best to avoid too much sunshine on the first warm weekend since September. Whenever possible, sit down in the shade, don't overexert yourself, and have that sunscreen ready. However, if you find yourself getting a little too much sun, we're happy to report that cold packs and other forms of cold therapy are FSA-eligible.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using these products to treat sunburns soon after you come out of the sun to fight the itching and burning from sunburns, as well as reduce any unwanted swelling and blisters.
(We like using them to just cool off, since they're drier and longer-lasting than damp towels or ice bags.)
Stay hydrated (inside and out)
I don't think we need to remind you how important it is to drink plenty of water (and no, beer, sangria and Coke Zero do not count toward your daily water requirements). Whenever you're outdoors and the temperature rises, you'll need to keep the water flowing, regardless of whatever else you're doing, eating or drinking.
In warmer weather, your skin needs some extra hydration, too. Even if you don't get a full-on sunburn, there's always the possibility your skin will crack and peel. Medicated moisturizers that are fortified with aloe vera are FSA-eligible with a prescription! Applying twice a day after being outdoors can help fight off gentle burns, and prevent your skin from drying out.
Ditch the itch
You aren't the only one looking forward to that outdoor fiesta. Bugs have been dormant all winter, and have likely planned their first summer meal at the same time as yours. But you can put the brakes on the buffet by using FSA-eligible sunscreen with bug repellent before stepping into the yard.
Should a few insects fight through the bug spray, it's a good idea to treat bites right away using hydrocortisone cream, which should immediately treat inflammation, redness and swelling before they happen.
[PRO TIP - Hydrocortisone is also fantastic for reducing sunburn swelling and burning. Have it in your bag, no matter where your weekend takes you.]
Don't be too proud
Okay, after a day full of food, drink, sun, bugs and sprays, you might not feel quite like yourself once the sun sets on Cinco de Mayo. But, rather than try to ignore the pain, allow yourself to enjoy a little relief while you wind down the weekend. Over-the-counter pain relief like ibuprofen and aspirin (along with a lot more water consumption) should help take the edge off the previous day's celebration. And they're FSA-eligible with a prescription, so use our Prescription Process to make it even easier!
FSA Friday is a weekly roundup of the latest topics, tips and headlines to keep you updated on all things flex spending. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the 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.
If you ask most business travelers, they will tell you that they have a love/hate relationship with the practice. While it's certainly exciting to see and experience new places, the daily grind of flying and an ever-changing slate of hotel rooms can weigh on even the most savvy business traveler.
So if you had a way to improve your comfort level, avoid chronic pain issues and maintain your overall wellness during travel, you wouldn't turn it down, right? Luckily, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), your benefit covers a huge range of eligible products that will do just that. Here's how to use FSA money to boost your overall health during your next business trip.
- Orthopedic Neck Pillow
If you experience chronic pain issues from sleeping in an upright position, you may experience additional pain throughout your business trip. An orthopedic neck pillow can contour to the neck and shoulders, and can be used in conjunction with traditional pillows to provide a comfortable sleep position that alleviates pain.
Check Out: IMAK HappiNeck Orthopedic Neck Support
- Acupressure Mat
Tackling pain on the road is tough, but instead of constantly resorting to over-the-counter pain relievers, acupressure mats may be the perfect solution. Acupressure mats target specific pressure points in the user's back, neck and shoulders to alleviate pain in various parts of the body. These mats are used to treat back/neck/shoulder pain, fibromyalgia pain and even migraines. Best of all, they are compact and can be stored in a suitcase with ease.
- Pain Relief Eye Mask
In addition to helping to block out light to help you sleep, pain relief eye masks are great options for business travelers who experience migraines, sinus pain or wake up with puffy eyes. After a short time in the refrigerator, these masks can provide cooling relief to fight pain and inflammation so you can wake up feeling your best.
Check Out: IMAK Eye Mask, Pain Relief
- Sun Protection with Daily Moisturizer
Is your face feeling as refreshed as it could be before a major business excursion? Daily moisturizers are usually not FSA-eligible, but those that offer broad spectrum protection and an SPF of 15+ are eligible for reimbursement with an FSA as long as their primary purpose is sun protection. These products can help refresh the look of your skin and safeguard your skin from the harsh effects of UVA and UVB rays.
- Eyeglass Repair Kit
If you wear glasses, you know the nightmare of having your eyewear break while on the road. Luckily, a surprising number of eyeglass accessories are FSA eligible, from eyeglass repair kits to cleaning wipes to cleaning sprays. Prepare ahead of time for these emergencies to give you confidence on your business trip!
Check Out: Flents Eyeglass Repair Kit
After a long, sweltering summer, the gorgeous fall weather is the perfect season for hikers, campers and outdoorsy types to go on a fall hike soon.
Plan a fall hike with your FSA
However, before you hit the road to your next destination, make sure you use your flexible spending account (FSA). Your FSA can prepare you for the next fall hike. Your Flexible Spending Account covers lots of different, everyday products that you may not realize are eligible. For example, did you know that pain relief hot or cold therapy packs for achey muscles and other pains? Or how about prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses? Thousands of items are available with an FSA.
Use your FSA card to pick up the following helpful FSA eligible expenses:
First Aid Kits
It's vital that you pack an FSA eligible first aid kit before your hike. This kit contains bandages, antiseptics, first aid tools and more that can help you act quickly. Opt for an Adventure Medical First Aid Kit for a rugged first aid kit that can stand up to the rigors of the trail!
Check Out: Adventure Medical Kits Weekender, 1 Kit
Hiking in the fall presents its own challenges, as precipitation can make trails slippery and uneven. A great item to pack is an elastic bandage. It can stabilize an injured joint to prevent further injury, and can be made into a sling! Bandages are a perfect accompaniment to a first aid kit.
Check Out: KT Tape
It's advisable that you apply sun protection before spending time outdoors. Additionally, if you become lost, a lack of sun protection can quickly become a life-threatening matter.This is an essential you should have available when venturing on the trails.
Do you have fall allergies? Allergens will be present whether you're in an urban or wooded environment.Prepare with a dedicated antihistamine tosymptoms such as sneezing, stuffy nose, watery eyes and a sore throat.
Check Out: Zyrtec Allergy, 24 Hour 10 mg Tablets, 45 ea
Pick up everything you need for your family's well-being with money you've already set aside by shopping at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA/HSA eligible items!
As the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day is like the last song at a great party. It's one last chance to enjoy the best of what the Summer offers before the school year begins. So, whether you're throwing a barbecue or hitting the road with your loved ones, don't forget to make your health and well-being a priority as the holiday weekend kicks off!
If you are enrolled in a flexible spending account (FSA), you can prep for Labor Day with pre-tax funds. Here are a few ways that your flex dollars can keep your family safe this weekend.
- First-Aid Kit
You may already have a first-aid kit for the house, but what about your car, camper, RV or boat? Do you have a first aid kit that can handle the rigors of the great outdoors? Make sure you can quickly respond with confidence in any emergency with a first aid kit that is designed for any environment.
Check Out: Adventure Medical First-Aid Kits
That early September sun can still wreak havoc on your skin! To prevent sunburns that can result in painful burning, itching and peeling, use your FSA to cover dermatological sunscreen that you can use each time you go outside this Fall. These products offer broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays that cause sunburn, are free of greasy ingredients and utilize natural compounds to prevent sun damage.
Check Out: Dermatological Sunscreen
- Blister Cushions
Whether you'll be hiking a difficult trail or simply spending a day chasing your little ones, blisters happen and can be a major nuisance for days on end. Blister cushions are a great addition to your first-aid kit or thrown into a backpack/purse so you can quickly treat blisters as they arise from long distance walking and other heavy activity.
- Mosquito Bite Pain Relief
Mosquitoes aren't gone yet! Bug bites will be a factor long into the late summer, and if you're particularly susceptible to these blood-suckers, heat therapy may be the perfect non-drug option for you. Newer devices provide soothing heat therapy to bug bites that neutralize insect venom and bacteria to relieve pain and itching.
Check Out: Therapik Mosquito Bite Pain Relief Device
- Allergy Medicine
If you or a loved one has a ragweed allergy, pollen counts for these plants are particularly high in late August to early September. Cold & allergy combinations and other over-the-counter medicines can be purchased with an FSA (with a prescription from a doctor) and they can combat the sneezing, itchy eyes and congestion that allergic reactions bring on.
Check Out: Allergy, Sinus and Combinations