National Sunscreen Day happens on May 27 and is the perfect time to recognize the danger that comes with going to the beach, the lake, even the backyard. These and other traditional sunbathing spots, considered harmless in the past, now carry a yellow flag of warning against skin cancer and other ill effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. On National Sunscreen Day, which is part of National Safe Sun Week, rub and absorb that lotion, cream, or spray before enjoying the warmth and light of summer. The higher the sun protection factor (SPF) in your product, the better. Chances are if you don’t know the right balance of SPF to protect yourself and still get the tan you want, a friend will. If they ask why, just say, “Don’t fry!”
History of National Sunscreen Day
Believe it or not (ask a Boomer or a Gen-X-er), even up to the 1980s, there were dozens if not hundreds of “bronzers” and “suntan lotions” on the market that not only didn’t block UV rays before they hit your skin but were designed to enhance the sun’s effect, granting a deep tan in the shortest amount of time possible. Attribute it to a thicker ozone layer back then, or a simple lack of scientific knowledge, but there was no buzz at all surrounding the acronym “SPF.”
Today, we know the true dangers of the sun’s rays (and those of UV tanning beds) and the carcinoma and melanoma we could be afflicted with if we lack proper protection. It was only recently that the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention designated a special day to learn about how we can protect ourselves. In short, your health should come before that “copper tone.”
Easily enough to guess, sunscreen is the number one weapon in the battle against UV-caused skin cancers. If you have to get that golden tan, make sure to conscientiously apply an SPF 30 or comparable product. Then, jump into the fun of summer, knowing you’re protected!
National Sunscreen Day timeline
Scientists first discovered the depletion, or “thinning” of the earth’s ozone layer, our atmosphere’s natural UV-inhibiting component.
A randomized trial follow-up study is done on residents of Queensland, Australia, the results of which (published in 2010) offer proof that regular use of sunscreen can prevent melanoma.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) adds UV-emitting tanning beds to the highest-risk category of cancer causers.
A study published in the “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” finds that despite the SPF 30 guideline, most people don’t apply sunscreen liberally enough to gain the full benefit, and therefore should use lotions, etc. that are at or above SPF 70.
National Sunscreen Day FAQs
When is National Sunscreen Day?
National Sunscreen Day is observed every year on May 27.
Why is sunscreen important?
Sunscreen protects your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It reduces the risk of skin burn and, in the long term, skin cancer.
Is there really a danger of skin cancer?
According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, there are more new cases of skin cancer every year in the U.S. than new cases of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. And of course, a major portion of those derive from insufficient UV protection. We can’t stress it enough. Slather, slather, and be safe.
HOW TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL SUNSCREEN DAY
Watch your SPF
Try to find water-resistant products with an SPF of 30 or more (and apply correctly, as noted above), which shield against 97% of UVB rays. However, the most important words to look for on your sunscreen tube are “broad spectrum," which means it protects against both types of rays: UVA (aging) and UVB (burning). Wait 15 minutes for the sunscreen to absorb into your skin and then seize the sunny day.
It's an easy and practical form of sun protection that you can find nearly everywhere. Shade can significantly reduce UV exposure as well as provide a cool, comfortable space to enjoy your day. Whatever throws shade is your friend, on National Sunscreen Day.
Your face and head are disproportionately more prone to skin cancer than the rest of your body. Choose a hat with a wide brim (more than three inches) angled downward to provide the most effective UV protection.
5 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE SUN
Hot to trot
Unless you were born in and never left the polar regions of the planet, you know the sun is extremely hot, but you might not have known that at its core, our star measures 9,940 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale.
Ninety-three million miles
Light, of course, is the fastest-traveling thing in the known universe, and it takes a full eight minutes for the sun’s light to reach the earth’s surface.
“Is that ‘billion,’ with a B?”
Most astronomers believe that the sun formed from a solar nebula (a giant, rotating cloud of gas and dust) around 4.6 billion years ago.
“…and I like beach sunsets…”
Sunset offers more colors of light because of an effect called “scattering,” in which sunlight must travel through more atmospheric gases to reach your vantage point, affecting blue light in a way we think you’ll agree is often beautiful.
The reason that a “red sky at night” signals clear weather for the following day, according to “National Geographic,” is that the sunlight appears red like that when there’s a large area of clear air to your west, one that will likely be above you several hours from that point.
WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL SUNSCREEN DAY
It offers skin protection
Sunscreen is crucial to preventing most UV ray-induced assaults on the body. Take time on National Sunscreen Day to start forming good habits for the rest of the summer. Consistency and discipline are the keys to an effective regimen.
It helps us fight the effects of aging
Sunscreen helps prevent a variety of skin issues that give you an uneven skin tone or worse. The right blocker prevents facial brown spots, reduces the appearance of blotchiness and red veins, and slows down the development of premature wrinkles. Who knew that sunscreen could be the way to the fountain of youth?
Not all sunscreens are a mess
There is a variety of SPF 30s and above that not only protect you from the sun but make your skin look great while doing so. Great news for those who dislike the smell and feel of regular sunscreen!
National Sunscreen Day dates