NEW YORK – Despite the risks from sun exposure, many people consider toting around sunscreen — not to mention having snow-white skin during summertime — unthinkable.
But thanks to innovations in sun protection and tanning, it's possible to have bronze skin and a clean bill of health.
This year, 53,600 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed according to The Skin Cancer Foundation — but simple precautions can keep anyone from being a statistic.
The sun's harmful rays can damage skin even during quick trips outdoors, not just during days at the beach, so for active types, carrying a bottle of sunblock around isn't very convenient.
Scott Davis, a retired professional tri-athlete with an MBA, created SPF to Go, a San Diego-based company that creates convenient sunscreen options for the active lifestyle. He has developed single-use packets of water and sweat-resistant sunblock.
"An SPF to Go packet can be carried in your pocket," Davis said. "You don't have to carry, or pay for, more than you need, and there's no waste, no mess." The packets are available in SPF 8, 15, 30, and 45 and average $1.29 each.
SunSwipe sunscreen towelettes are another easy-to-stash protection product. Pre-moistened with sunscreen, these towelettes can be used on your face and body. They come in a compact package and are available in SPF 15, 25, 30, and 45.
But while applying sunblock to your bare areas before heading for your next outdoor adventure may seem adequate, what lies beneath your clothes is vulnerable too.
Dr. Perry Robins, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, said most people wrongly believe their clothing gives them plenty of protection from the sun. But some plain cotton T-shirts only provide an ultraviolet protection factor of five.
"The amount of exposure depends on the weave of the clothing," Robins said. "[With a] tighter weave, not as much light goes through."
However, you don't have to layer on the clothes for protection. Rit Sun Guard is a laundry additive that actually adds UV protection to your clothing and can help block more than 96 percent of the sun's harmful rays. Add one packet to the wash cycle and launder as usual. Clothes will be invisibly protected for more than 20 washings.
Robins said especially fair-skinned people can benefit from the laundry additives, which go for about $3.
"I think it's great and recommend people add to it laundry," he said. "It's not expensive and can only help."
But for those worried that creating this head-to-toe SPF shield will create a ghostly façade and have beachgoers covering their eyes from the glare, self-tanners are always an option.
While some of the original self-tanners left skin with an unnatural orange hue, newer formulas have been perfected to create a natural glow. But unless you're a circus performer, applying an even coat of self-tanning lotion to your whole body is nearly impossible.
Hollywood Tans, a nationwide tanning salon chain, has developed an all-over faux tan solution. The UV-Free Instant Tan Booth — HT 9 — mists customers with a combination of self-tanner, bronzers and moisturizers, giving an even tan in merely six seconds.
The procedure is simple: Once you're in the buff and your hair is tucked into a shower cap, step into the misting booth (like a private shower), press a button and a light mist is sprayed evenly over your body. Afterwards, rub down to make sure tanner is not pooling up in any areas, then pat down with a towel. A tan develops within a few hours and lasts about a week.
Many salons offer packages of two HT 9 sessions for $25.
Hollywood Tans also has regular tanning beds but recognized a void in the business. "The HT 9 booth was created by the company to address the needs of those people that are unable to tan, attracting customers that otherwise would not think of visiting a tanning salon," Ralph Venuto Sr., CEO of Hollywood Tans, said in a statement.
With new tan technology and easy-to-tote sunscreen there's no longer an excuse to go without SPF every day.
But Robins sees even more advanced skin protection in the future. "I think the next innovation will be a pill by mouth, to affect DNA and alter it so it doesn't break down and eventually lead into a skin cancer," he said.