COVID-19 & SUNSCREEN
9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
ABOUT PANDEMIC SUN SAFETY
SHOULD YOU BE TOUCHING YOUR FACE?
BUT... WE NEED SUNSCREEN!
READ BELOW TO FIND OUT ALL THE ANSWERS
9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
ABOUT PANDEMIC SUN SAFETY
You Won't Want To Miss #2 on This List
9. HAND SANITIZER WILL REMOVE YOUR SUNSCREEN
Even if you think your sunscreen has absorbed into your skin - think again. When you apply sunscreen, it might be common to say that your sunscreen has “absorbed” into your skin. This isn’t exactly correct. Some of the sunscreen absorbs that’s true… but most of it dries as a layer that sits on top of your skin. Hand sanitizer on the other hand, is usually around 70% isopropanol - a solvent which has the great property of killing germs... but it also dissolves sunscreen. In this case, the hand sanitizer is going to both kill germs and dissolve the sunscreen that’s dried on top of your skin. If you apply hand sanitizer anywhere you’ve put sunscreen, your sunscreen will soon wipe off and your skin won’t be protected.
Is this all bad? How can we use this to our advantage?
Well, we actually recommend people clean their palms after applying sunscreen. This is a little known pro tip. Why do we recommend washing away sunscreen you ask? So often when we’re outside we use our hands to wipe sweat from our eyes (see #2 below about applying sunscreen to your face!). Then, in no time we have complained that the sunscreen has “ran into our eyes”. In reality, you had sunscreen on your fingers, and you just put sunscreen in your eyes when you wiped away your sweat. So if you clean your palms after applying sunscreen, your eyes will certainly thank you later!
Another fun fact? Cleaning your palms also gives you your grip back. So if you’re outside playing golf (one of the few sports that are starting to open back up), cleaning your palms will give you a great grip on your clubs. Check out the SPOTMYUV Sport kit on FSAStore.com. This SPOTMYUV kit comes with isopropanol-based wipes that will kill germs & clean sunscreen from your palms, so you get twice the value this summer from our SPOTMYUV Sport kit.
8. TURN SUNBURN RELIEF INTO HAND SANITIZER
Have you found your local store is out of hand sanitizer? The good news is that you can make your own from a familiar sunburn relief gel. That’s right, you can DIY hand sanitizer from aloe-vera gel and isopropyl alcohol. Healthline posted a neat guide here.
If you’re reading this blog & are as sun safe as we are, that aloe-vera gel is probably not getting much use anyways since you’re so good with your sun protection! Right? Right! Might as well put it to good use with a home chemistry project that you can definitely get a lot of value from during this pandemic.
Isn't it neat how sunburn relief can be turned into hand sanitizer, which removes sunscreen, which then causes more sunburns, causing you to then buy more sunburn relief?
7. KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON
Let’s face it. We all aren’t rocking stellar pandemic bods with gyms being closed & being told to stay indoors for the last few months. A copious amount of sourdough bread hasn’t helped either. However, we are not telling you to keep your shirt on because of how you look (we totally support whatever bod you’ve got, as long as that bod is wearing sunscreen)… we’re telling you to keep your shirt on so nobody has to come within 6 feet of you to apply sunscreen on your back!
It’s the first sunny day in the pandemic, and you want to go to a pool, park, or beach. Don’t use this opportunity to come home with a horrific sunburn on your back because nobody would come within 6 feet of you to help you apply sunscreen there. Instead, keep your shirt on, keep your distance, and enjoy the sun anyways. Rash guards are the best because you can swim with them on, and they actually help keep your body cooler by deflecting the sun’s rays. It’s not intuitive, but trust me, I know my way around some rash guards, and they totally work.
There are lots of really cool rash guards out there that you can safely shop for online. SPOTMYUV did a collab with the Ugly Xmas Rashie back in 2018, check out how they look!
Maybe this year, skip the high five.
6. DON'T SUNSCREEN YOUR WHOLE FACE
One of the number one things we’ve been told about COVID-19 is that it spreads by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. However, our faces still need sun protection, and sunscreen is known to run into eyes. What are the best sun safe techniques to avoiding touching your face until it’s time to reapply?
Step 1: Get a hat. A baseball cap is good. A wide brimmed hat is better. A big fancy floppy hat is best… although the men in your life might not get on board with that one! There are special hats that Australians used called Legionnaire Hats that are specially designed to shield your forehead, ears, and the back of your neck. Although pictured below on a baby, there are some very edgy adult-legionnaire hat designs found here at Uncle Reco.
Big & Floppy
Step 2: Don’t apply on your forehead. Rely on your hat to protect your forehead. The last thing you’d want is for sunscreen to be running into your eyes if you start to sweat. COVID-19 spreads by touching your face & eyes, so by avoiding putting any sunscreen above your eyes, then no sunscreen can run into them!
Step 3: Sunglasses. Protecting your eyes not only looks cool, but is super important for good eye health. As an added bonus, by using sunglasses, you won't need sunscreen around your eyes - meaning there’s a much less chance that sunscreen could find its way into your eyes and irritate them. A big pair of sunglasses can be a lifesaver during this pandemic – but really, you should always wear sunglasses outdoors. You can actually get skin cancer in your eyes, and sunglasses are actually the best way to prevent UV damage in our eyes. I personally wear prescription polarized Raybans so I don’t have to choose between my regular glasses & protecting my eyes from UV. Make sure when you buy sunglasses that they have been certified to block UV – some cheap sunglasses just have a tint film that doesn’t fully protect you from UV.
Step 4: Create Your New Routine. Home is the best place to start, especially if you're only going to be out for a short period of time. Let's recap the above to create our new pandemic sun care routine:
1. Get your hat to protect your forehead.
2. Slip on some sunglasses to protect the areas around your eyes.
3. Stick on your SPOTMYUV onto exposed skin.
4. Then, apply sunscreen to all exposed skin & the lower half of your face. Don't forget your ears and neck too!
5. Wash your palms free of sunscreen (to avoid accidental eye irritation later on).
It's certainly worth it to use the extra time the pandemic has given us for our mornings to break bad sun care habits and establish a new morning routine that includes SPF, SPOTMYUV, a hat, and sunglasses!
2020: The Year We're Breaking Bad Sun Care Habits
Step 5: Teach This To Your Kids. If you’re outside for a while and your SPOTMYUV sticker is saying that it’s time to reapply, first make sure you’re washing your hands before touching your face. Wash your hands. Apply sunscreen. Wash your hands again. If you have kids, make sure your kids know to also not touch the sunscreen on their face without first sanitizing.
5. YOUR GYM HAS NEW RULES
With regular gyms being closed due to COVID-19, we’ve all started that gym that Mother Nature has provided for us – the great outdoors. More and more people have started to take up walking, running, or even outdoor swimming in areas that allow water access. Let’s go over your new gym’s rules and code of conduct:
• Hours of Operation: Your new gym is open from 12:00AM until 10:00AM and from 4:00PM until Midnight. Avoid heading outside between 10AM and 4PM as those are the hours when the UV is strongest (risk of sunburn) and the temperature is hottest (risk of heat stroke). Look up the local UV index where you live and try to limit your time outside to only when the UV is low.
• Sunscreen Required Before Use: If you’re running outside, you’re definitely going to busting a sweat. If you followed our tips from #6 above on how to avoid sunscreen in your eyes (but still applying everywhere else), you should be in for a really pleasant time. If you skipped #6, go back and read it now! You definitely do not want sunscreen in your eyes ruining your run and inadvertently causing you to touch your face.
Kym Crosby (@kymbo14) - Team USA's 100m Sprinter (who has albinism) knows best & uses SPOTMYUV when training outdoors
• Wipe Down After Use: This might be more general advice that you should follow whether you’re in a pandemic or not, but definitely clean all the sweat off your hands before touching any surfaces another person would have to touch (i.e. whether it be gym equipment or your apartment building doors). Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer & a small towel in your pocket so you don’t leave surfaces moist for the next person.
• Reef Safe Only: Something we all missed this year was the roll out of reef-safe sunscreens across many places in the United States & the world. Hawaii’s non-reef-safe sunscreen ban comes into effect January 1, 2021, so get ready now. “Reef safe” sunscreens are those that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as their UV blocking ingredients. Scientists believe that these sunscreens are better for our lakes & oceans when we’re swimming in them. If you’re swimming outdoors, shop for some mineral sunscreen like CoTZ (Kym's Personal Choice, as seen above), SolRx, Badger Balm, Olita, Raw Elements, Surface Sunscreen, or your other favourite brand at your local pharmacy - just make sure to check their ingredients first!
Don't forget that sweating makes it easier for your sunscreen to wipe away as you're exercising. Definitely reapply after your workout.
Brands like SolRx have reef-safe clip-on sunscreen that you can take with you on the go! How many times have we said to wash your hands before & after reapplying when on the go? Not enough yet? Okay. Well, here's one more reminder!
4. SPRAY THAT SUNSCREEN
Worried about what might be on your hands? I’m sure you’re thinking what I’m thinking. SPRAY SUNSCREEN! What a lifesaver. Spray sunscreen is great because it's contact-free, but there are some things about spray sunscreen you might not know. For instance:
• Spray sunscreen gets everywhere but your skin. In our studies, the average person missed about 60% of the sunscreen they sprayed when they were applying spray sunscreen to their body. You’re not only wasting precious sunscreen, but your skin won’t be as sufficiently protected. Since I know that you’re all wearing SPOTMYUV you’ll always know if you’ve applied enough, but in the off chance you’ve left your SPOTMYUV at home, it might be best to double up on the spray.
• You still need to rub spray sunscreen in. Spray sunscreen aerosol doesn’t give your skin perfect sheen coverage unless you really cake yourself in sunscreen. Sunscreen manufacturers recommend that you still rub in your spray sunscreen to ensure that you’ve applied an even coating on all exposed skin. So, remember to sanitize your hands before touching yours or anyone else’s skin or sunscreen.
• You shouldn’t spray your face. Aerosolized sunscreen can irritate your nose, eyes, and mouth if you breathe it in. If you need sunscreen on your face and all you have is a can of spray, you should spray a pool onto your hands and then apply that to your face. Obviously, with copious amounts of hand sanitizer before touching your face. Alternatively, bring a second sunscreen for your face, or follow the above recommendations from Tip #6 for protecting your face from the sun.
But the fun doesn't stop there! There's two more ways you can apply sunscreen hands free: Stick Sunscreen & Roll-On Sunscreen. Both methods are great ways to apply sunscreen exactly where you want it, without having to use your hands.
Shop these awesome sunscreen products from independent sun care brands:
3. HEALTHCARE WORKERS WILL THANK YOU FOR SUNSCREEN-ING UP
Hospitals are prioritizing essential COVID-19 treatment these days. The last thing a nurse who’s been working 12 hour shifts is going to want to hear is your story of how you had such a lovely time in the sun, violating pandemic advice to stay indoors, that you now have a third degree sunburn. Summer has arrived, and if you are outside all day without sunscreen, you will get sunburnt. Depending on how long you’re in direct sunlight without sunscreen, that sunburn could be third degree sunburn which will require hospital treatment to avoid an infection.
UV Creates Damaging Reactive Oxygen,
Causing Melanin Activation.
Remember – sunburn is not a “hot burn” like what you’d get if you touched a hot stove-burner or the oven door on accident. Sunburn is actually a radiation burn. Sunburn is the result of UV rays tearing apart RNA in your skin, your body then thinking the broken RNA strands are the result of an infection, and consequently sending the immune-response to clean it up. Note – “tanning” also is the result of UV rays tearing apart RNA – it just didn’t get “as bad” as your skin was able to handle without blistering.
Tanning causes the same kind of damage as sunburn; it just looks different. As you can see on the left, dangerous reactive oxygen from UV rays is what activates the melanocytes that cause tanning. So when we ask "what came first - the tanning or the damage?" - we know that definitely that the damage happened first.
Furthermore, a tan doesn't protect you from the sun. A "tan" has an SPF of 1-4. It's important to also note that getting a tan that is dark enough to be equivalent to SPF 4 causes so much skin damage, that any incremental protection it might offer is vastly outweighed by the damage you caused to get the tan in the first place.
So what should you do? Wear sunscreen. Drink lots of water to avoid heatstroke. Essential workers will thank you later. But if you do get sunburnt, make sure to take Advil and apply aloe. Advil reduces swelling, which is what sunburn actually is, so it will definitely help you feel better!
2. DOES VITAMIN D PREVENT COVID-19?
Our heads also turned when we heard the news report that Vitamin D deficiency was found in those who died from COVID-19. First, let’s learn what Vitamin D actually does and where we get it… then let’s talk about how it interacts with COVID-19.
Vitamin D is technically not a vitamin; it’s a hormone that your body produces when exposed to sunlight. This hormone helps your body regulate calcium and phosphate (which can promote healthy growth & healthy bones) as well as improving your immune function and reducing inflammation. Vitamin D helps with immune function & reducing inflammation; COVID-19 preys on those with immunodeficiencies and causes inflamed lungs. I’m sure your alarms are sounding now.
Are they linked?
Or is this another case of correlation not equating to causation?
Is there evidence to say that COVID-19 can be prevented by Vitamin D?
Researchers in Alberta are running a clinical trial that involves treating some COVID-19 patients with Vitamin D supplements, but the results are not out yet. It's important to not get excited about clinical trials before the results - the fact that a clinical trial alone is happening doesn't confirm anything. We learned that lesson already this pandemic when a certain official advised to use chloroquine as a treatment. Now, we know that multiple studies have proven that chloroquine makes COVID-19 much worse.
Back to Vitamin D. Researchers from the United Kingdom, Europe and the U.S. published a warning which states that currently “there is no strong scientific evidence to show that very high intakes of Vitamin D will be beneficial in preventing or treating COVID-19". We strongly caution against doses higher than the upper limit and certainly of very high doses of vitamin D unless under personal medical advice/clinical advice by a qualified health professional”. So in short, it would be great if Vitamin D does help with COVID-19; it would be great if anything helped treat COVID-19, but right now, we don’t have enough information to say Vitamin D helps or hurts COVID-19 treatment.
Then, why do those who have died from COVID-19 have vitamin deficiencies?
Well, let’s look at a few factors. First, COVID-19 started in the winter – a time of the year where most of the world runs Vitamin D deficient because we’re staying inside to avoid cold weather. Then, we look at who is dying of COVID-19 at the highest rates – in this case, it’s the elderly. Those who are senior citizens have a variety of health problems (lung, heart, and weight problems) which directly exacerbate the effects of COVID-19. Additionally, the elderly likely spend a lot of time indoors in nursing/seniors’ homes (as we all get a little bit less active as we age). Therefore, the senior population is almost always Vitamin D deficient - pandemic or not. So reflecting on some of the broader factors at play during this pandemic, it’s entirely reasonable to expect that people who are receiving COVID-19 treatment are also low on Vitamin D.
And now let’s wrap this up.
If sunlight gives us Vitamin D (which is good for us), then why do we wear sunscreen and avoid high levels of UV (which can inhibit our body’s production of Vitamin D)? Where else can we get Vitamin D?
Let's start with how much Vitamin D we actually need. There is no exact number of minutes (as all of our bodies produce Vitamin D differently depending on our skin tone and UVB sensitivity), but most scientists like Dr. Michael Holick at Boston University agree that around 10 minutes of sunlight on our forearms and legs, a few times a week, is sufficient for those with lighter skin tones. Let’s read that again. Ten minutes, a 2-3 times a week, on our forearms and legs. If you have a dark skin tone (i.e. African-American skin), you’ll need a bit longer due to the melanin in your skin.
There is absolutely no justification for baking in the sun or spending lots of time outdoors for the sole purpose of getting Vitamin D.
Here’s what Yale Medicine has to say.
• Our bodies can’t make infinite amounts of Vitamin D after it’s produced the little bit we need to sustain a healthy immune system.
• Too much Vitamin D can lead to Vitamin D poisoning, especially if you’re taking too many Vitamin D supplements.
• Sunburn & skin cancer are far greater risks to our bodies than being Vitamin D deficient.
• Scientists also agree that spending time outside wearing sunscreen will still allow our bodies to produce significant amounts of Vitamin D (since sunscreen doesn’t block 100% of UVB light, some gets through and allows our bodies to produce Vitamin D).
If you’re still concerned, talk to your doctor about getting tested for Vitamin D and potentially supplementing your outdoor activity with supplements or diets high in Vitamin D (i.e. fish). But for now for most of us, it's business as usual. Sunscreen up!
and finally, the #1 Thing You Need to Know About Pandemic Sun Safety
1. SUNCAYR NEEDS SOME CARE TOO
At Suncayr (the company behind SPOTMYUV), we’ve worked 6 years to launch our amazing stickers... and what a year to launch in! We are a seasonal product that relies heavily on travel and people going outdoors during the summer. I’m sure you’re thinking what we’re seeing too - this is seriously not a good formula to survive a pandemic!
Sorry for the self plug.
Sorry for being shameless.
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Andrew, Chad, and Derek (the founders) thank you for
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• Head to our RETAILERS page to find the retailer nearest to you. Go to your local retailer and buy a pack of SPOTMYUV instead of buying online. Between Albertsons, Safeway, Bartell Drugs, and more, there are over 2500 locations across the United States you can find SPOTMYUV, so I’m sure there’s one near you. In Canada, look for your local Federated Co-Op or Lee Valley and some IGA stores in BC. Seasonal products can be returned by retailers, so if you buy it there for us, then we don’t have to buy it back at the end of summer.
• Support other sun care start-ups too. Buy direct from them or shop small brands at retail. Here is a list of independent sun care companies that we are friends with; they would certainly love your support too.