By Tracy Noble –
Ottawa loves to spend the summer outdoors enjoying the warmer temperatures, but how many people are adequately prepared to protect their skin from the hot sun? According to the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation, over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year. Thankfully, skin cancer can be prevented with sun-safe habits, including seeking shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wearing sunscreen, and protective clothing.
Hats play an essential role in sun protection. A good sun hat can prevent sunburn on your head, face and neck, protect your eyes, as well as prevent sunstroke and heat exhaustion by keeping your body cooler.
Instead of opting for a baseball cap, select a wide-brimmed hat that protects your face and the back of your neck. Many outdoor stores, such as MEC (366 Richmond Rd.) sell wide-brimmed hats, including unisex styles in varying colours and rim sizes designed to keep you cool and shaded from the sun. Look for hats that offer UPF protection and also feature draw cords so they can still be worn on windy days or while on a boat.
For children, select a hat with a “cape” on the back, as this feature offers complete neck protection without being cumbersome during play. You should also look for a hat that floats and is made from light nylon fabric, so it will dry quickly – making it the perfect hat for a day at the beach or splash pad.
According to Kristin Dudley of Laserderm (1600 Carling Ave.), consumers should look for an all-mineral sunscreen. “Mineral sunscreens can provide an SPF of 30-50. They can also provide high UVA Protection Factors. We see more and more the impact of UVA in the role of skin cancer, so protecting against it with a high concentration all-mineral sunscreen is the most important thing consumers can do,” says Kristin. Laserderm recommends sunscreens from The Sunscreen Company, their sister company founded by Dr. Sharyn Laughlin and her husband Dr. Denis Dudley (a.k.a. The Sunscreen Doc).
Local retailers, such as Natural Food Pantry (205 Richmond Rd.), terra20 (1130 Wellington St. W.) and Oresta Organic Skin Care (1121 Wellington St. W.) also offer a wide variety of natural, organic and mineral-based sunscreens for the face, body, with options for children as well.
According to Oresta Korbutiak of Oresta Organic Skin Care, “zinc oxide is a safe, natural mineral sunscreen which reflects the heat of the sun’s rays off of the skin keeping it cool and breathable. It reflects the heat and energy of the sun’s rays away from the skin, thereby reducing its temperature.” When looking for a sunscreen, it is essential to choose the right SPF factor. And don’t forget to double-check the expiry date!
Sun protective clothing is an easy method of sun protection and shops like MEC and Bushtukuah (203 Richmond Rd.) offer a variety of shirts and pants designed to provide complete UPF protection. While regular clothing offers some protection, sun protective clothing provides additional protection by reflecting and absorbing UV radiation. When looking for clothing with UPF protection, check the tag and label. The UPF label means the clothing has been tested and you can be sure you will receive that level of sun protection – the higher the UPF rating, the better the protection.
Swim shirts also offer UPF protection and are important to wear while swimming during peak sun hours, and unlike sunscreen, the protection won’t wear off when wet and doesn’t need to be reapplied.
On a hot sunny day, the sun’s UV rays can cause a sunburn in as little as 15 minutes, so before heading outside, grab what you need to fully protect yourself and your family.