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Slather on some sunscreen to celebrate 'Don't Fry Day'

Consumer Reports News: May 25, 2012 10:08 AM

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Don't forget the sunscreen as you head out for some fun this Memorial Day weekend. The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has declared today "Don't Fry Day." The sun-safety awareness campaign hopes to educate you on how best to protect your skin from dangerous ultraviolet rays.

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is one of the two most common cancers afflicting young Americans, and It's estimated that one American dies every hour from it. Approximately 76,000 new cases of melanoma will occur this year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

In our recent tests of sunscreen lotions and sprays, we found many that provide excellent protection against UVB radiation, which causes sunburn. The Ratings have several recommended brands (available to subscribers), and one of our two Best Buys was a Walgreens brand. Among the other sunscreens we tried were Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Hawaiian Tropic.

New and easier to understand labeling will also help you pick the best sunscreen for your needs, including sun-protection information printed on the bottle. See which ingredients you should be on the lookout for.

You always want to buy a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and if you can't find one of our recommended ones, at the very least pick a broad-spectrum water-resistant one that claims to protect against UVA and UVB rays, which are both linked to skin cancer.

More ways to be safe in the sun:

  • Fill up most of a 1.5-ounce shot glass with sunscreen--that's how much you should apply each time you use it (at least every two hours and after you go swimming or sweat a lot). Or spray generously while applying it evenly and then spray yourself again. Avoid using sprays on children.
  • Rub sunscreen in 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. If it's windy out, apply spray sunscreen to your hand and rub it in. For your face, spray your hands and then rub it in. We found that most of the sunscreens in our tests stain, so be careful not to get it on your beach attire.
  • Bring a big hat, a long-sleeved beach cover-up, and sunglasses to help shield from those harmful rays.

And check out tips on providing the right sun protection for babies and kids.

Sources: Don't Fry Day [National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention]

Skin Cancer is Most Common Cancer in US, Yet One of the Most Preventable

Maggie Shader

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