"Every year there are more patients with a skin cancer diagnosis than breast, lung, and colon combined," explained Yael Cohen, founder of FCancer. Yeah, you read that right — you could be at risk! "Melanoma is most common in 25- to 30-year-olds," Cohen added. "We're just starting to think about aging and getting wrinkles, but your skin is going to wear that sun damage." So to break it down for you: sun safety now means fewer wrinkles and a serious decrease in your chances of getting skin cancer. While you definitely should slather on SPF and reapply, there are more tips you should follow to be proactive. We're making sure you have this important checklist about sun safety:
Are you at risk?
Fair skin, freckles, and light eyes all increase your chance of getting skin cancer (in addition to just being young and stupid). You can check if you are more at risk with FCancer's risk factor checklist. "One symptom might not be so concerning, but when you have a few of them, its something to start paying attention to," Cohen said.
Make time for monthly checks.
Doing a monthly skin check may seem like a chore, but think of it as me time. "You won't find something every time you look," Cohen said. "Hopefully you'll find something never, but if something changes in color or there's a mole, you'll notice." You should a check all your moles alphabetically.
Know what's in your sunscreen.
All sunscreens are not made equal. Make sure to turn over the bottles before you purchase, because your pick could be packed with nasties (carcinogens, phthalates, parabens). Cohen relies on the Environmental Working Group to decipher her beauty products. "They rate products based on their impact health-wise and on the environment. You can see what ingredients are are carcinogenic and make better decisions," she said. "Some sunscreens have vitamin A and retinyl palmitate, which increases your chances of getting burned."
Sunscreen isn't the only protection.
There are more ways than topical SPF to protect your skin from the sun. Cohen's beach vacation packing list includes a hat, a cover-up, and sunglasses with UV protection. If you know you're prone to getting a burn, opt for chilling underneath an umbrella versus tanning in the sun.
Replace all your moisturizers with SPF.
Getting your daily sunscreen fix is as simple as a basic product swap. Instead of using just plain moisturizer in the morning, get one with SPF built in. Cohen takes it a step further and packs her sunscreen for frequent touch-ups. "I wear SPF 60 every day. I carry it with me, just like I have hand sanitizer in my purse, I have a small tube of sunscreen," she said. "I think its important to make it a priority in the same way you brush your teeth and our hair and wash our face." Try replacing your travel hand cream with Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl Hand Cream ($28), which has SPF 25.
Don't get a sunburn — seriously.
One bad burn can double your chances of getting melanoma. "Your cells are so badly damaged that they're determined to kill themselves instead of potentially replicating with that genetic mutation," Cohen said. "When I had it explained to me that way it was so eye-opening." Yeah, we'll be packing a full-on shroud the next time we hit the sand.