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Sun Protection

The Check Your Skin campaign endorses the use of sunscreen to prevent some skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.  But, sunscreen has not yet been proven to prevent melanoma. Therefore, protective clothing and sun avoidance are the best ways to prevent the sunlight's effect on melanoma development.

When you are in the sun, remember these four simple words:

SLIP! on a shirt...SLOP! on sunscreen...SLAP! on a hat...and WRAP! on sunglasses.

Please visit the American Cancer Society website at for more information on the Slip!Slop!Slap! and Wrap! campaign.

Rays of Light  (Sunlight, that is)

The Check Your Skin project is committed to teaching the public the facts about sun exposure.  The sun radiates ultra-violet light.  Ultraviolet (UV) light is divided into two main categories, ultraviolet - A (UVA) and ultraviolet - B (UVB).  Each type of UV light damages the skin in a different manner. 

  • UVA light - remember "A" for "aging", this type of light affects the skin, and increases the aging process.  These rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB light and can cause a leathered, wrinkled appearance.
  • UVB light - remember "B" for "bad", this type of skin contributes to the development of the bad things, like melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.  UVB also is the type of light that causes most sunburns.

Sun Protection

In addition to avoiding peak sunlight hours, wearing clothing, hats, sunglasses, and staying in the shade all help protect us from the sun as well.

  • Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before sun exposure for the sunscreen to take effect. Reapply sunscreen every 1-2 hours.
  • It is best to use a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15.
  • Look for a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. Many older sunscreens only protected against UVB rays, but more now offer protection against UVA rays as well.
  • Sunscreen does not completely protect our skin 100% so it is also helpful to wear protective clothing.
  • Thicker clothes typically offer more protection than thinner fabric clothes.
  • Darker clothes are better because they absorb more UV radiation than light colored clothing.
  • Some fabrics are rated and given a UPF or Ultraviolet Protection Factor. SPF only measures UVB protection while UPF accounts for UVA and UVB. A UPF of 50 only allows 1/50th of the UV radiation to pass through the garment.
  • UPF 40-50 is Excellent and indicates that less than 2.5% of UV Rays get through the fabric.
  • UPF 25,30,35 is Very Good and allows only 4.1 – 2.6% of UV Rays.
  • UPF of 15 or 20 is Good and allows 6.7 – 4.2% of UV Rays.
  • Some clothes are specially made for sun protection. Check out or for products.
*Measurement Standards Laboratory of New Zealand
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