| Caitlin Doermer
You have your tickets purchased, your itinerary mapped out, your camera charged and ready--now it’s time to tackle the packing list.
Does it include sunscreen? Sunscreen lip balm?...If you haven't considered sunscreen lip balm to be among your necessities, it's probably time to start.
Vacations present us with more opportunities to actually get outdoors and soak up some sun. Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type, chances are you’ll be outside more than usual, exploring new places and seeing the sights. But be aware that being in the sun inevitably means upping your chances for overexposure.
You Can Be Exposed to The Sun, Even in Unlikely Places
Travel means transportation, and sometimes it means elevation, and most of the time it means sun exposure in strange places. Consider some of these prime opportunities for getting caught exposed and unprotected:
- At Altitude
- At the Beach
Relaxing, warm, and low maintenance, beaches make for ideal vacation destinations. But it’s essential to take added sun precautions if that’s where you’re headed.
“Both water and sand can reflect up to 80 percent of the sun's rays, adding to your overall exposure," cautions Perry Robins, MD, President of the Skin Cancer Foundation.
- In an Airplane
You should be using sunscreen every time you board an airplane. Seem silly? Consider this: an hour of flying at 30,000 feet can be can be as dangerous as 20 minutes in a tanning bed. The airplane windows block some of the sun’s UVB rays, but do little to discourage UVA rays. You’ll need broad-spectrum sunscreen to shield your skin from all of the UV rays.
Some flights (across certain portions of the sky, where the atmosphere is not as thick) are more dangerous than others, but repeated exposure at any height only increases your chances for lasting damage.
- In the Car
Skin cancer is more prominent on the left side of the body, particularly on the arm and left side of the face. 52.6% of skin cancers in both men and women occurred on the left side of the body, and 74% of malignant Melanomas occurred on the left.
Which is why sun exposure while driving has been linked to an increased risk of developing skin cancer. So make the effort to sunscreen up before jumping in the car, especially for long trips. But why not every day? An hour in traffic each morning adds up fast—an ounce of sunscreen can save you a lot of trouble in the future by keeping your skin healthier and looking younger longer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US with 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually—a number that continues to grow. The important thing to note is that all of your skin is susceptible to damage. Especially areas of the body that are constantly exposed—or said differently, areas that are rarely covered—like your lips.
Do you apply SPF to your lips daily? Are you careful to choose chemical-free options to make sure you’re not exposing yourself to toxins in addition to UV rays? If you’ve answered “no” you may have a hole in your health and beauty routine.
Staying Protected Means Covering All Exposed Skin, Even Your Lips
Though often overlooked, the lips are not uncommonly the site of skin cancer diagnoses. Like any skin cancer, the best way to ensure you’re not at risk is to stay covered.
If you know you’re going to be outdoors for extended periods of time, wear a wide-brimmed hat. It’s the simplest way to ensure you’re not subjecting yourself to over-exposure, especially in the delicate lip region.
Can’t wear a hat, or set on adding a second layer of protection (encouraged!)? Slick on some sunscreen lip balm.
What to look for in a sunscreen lip balm:
- Choose a lip balm with SPF 30 sun protection or greater and apply it regularly
- Make sure the active ingredients are not chemical (i.e. oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate) as these additives can be damaging to the environment when they wash off--not to mention they shouldn’t be ingested. Many beaches and ocean areas all over the world actually forbid products that contain these chemicals, so preempt a sunscreen-less snorkeling trip with a complete collection of mineral, reef-friendly sunscreen products
- Get something soothing (infused with moringa oil, perhaps?) so your lips will be both protected and nourished. You’ll be more inclined to use it often, and your lips will be kissably soft—added bonus!
Before you head outside, even for a short period of time, give your lips a generous coat of sunscreen lip balm. Throughout the day, reapply, especially after eating, drinking, or swimming.
You’ll feel better about doing something good for your body as you otherwise indulge in vacation-sized meals and maybe a few cocktails, and you’ll be warding off future health issues with just a quick swipe of the lip balm tube. So go ahead, put it on the packing list. Safe travels!