Lightweight Sunscreen for Hiking and Backpacking
Oct 7, 2019 at 6:05 am #3612922
Companion forum thread to: Lightweight Sunscreen for Hiking and Backpacking
How to create a lightweight sunscreen strategy by using your backpacking apparel and supplies.Oct 7, 2019 at 2:41 pm #3612942Chris RBPL Member
Thanks for highlighting this.
This the main reason I wear long sleeves, long pants and a wide brim hat. Caps look fancier but I find they just don’t cut it for protecting nose, ears and back of the neck.
Been hearing more recently that melanoma rates for men are rising while they are static or falling for women, also that the facial and head melanomas are a big part of this. Very sadly this has been accompanied by a number of subsequent suicides due to disfigurement following surgery.
Not niceOct 7, 2019 at 3:33 pm #3612956
thanks Emylene! I had a cancerous melanoma sliced out of my cheek (I’m not disfigured but there is a slight scar). Not pleasant. Worse would have been for it to spread to my lymph system, where it’s inoperable and deadly. I caught mine just by chance. My take aways:
1. it doesn’t take getting a burn for sun exposure–especially over time–to potentially cause melanomas
2. baseball style caps alone can give the illusion of providing shade for the face because the wearer’s eyes are shaded–but not the rest of his or her face. I think a broad brimmed hat is far better. and if you simply look at someone in a ball cap out in the sun you’ll see what I mean.
3. drape style caps and hats with a LARGE spf (not cotton!) drape are excellent for keeping mosquitoes and flies off of your head, face and neck–as well as the sun. Sun Precautions has a versatile drape hat that lets you adjust the drape to all kinds of configurations depending on conditions–including pulling it up over your nose. and drape hats hang loose so are relatively cool.
4. cotton bandanas are not spf and not worth much, despite what your dad told you.
5. sun at elevation is much more intense than at sea level.
6. my doctors and surgeon told me that it took years of sun exposure to develop the cancerous melanoma I had. And: there’s no such thing as a healthy tan for this reason. So you have to think long term. do you plan to be outdoors a lot over the decades? then you have to start covering up early.
7. Emylene could start a new career in the movies if she wishes.Oct 7, 2019 at 6:38 pm #3612970Graham FBPL Member
@02174424Locale: Victoria-Southeast Australia
Missed any refefence to sunnies. NZ and next Oz have the highest rates of eye melanoma in the world from UV radiation. A big issue and often forgotten. Put your sunnies on and leave them on. Carry a spare pair.Oct 9, 2019 at 4:51 am #3613134
Excellent points by all. I’m glad to hear some of the gentlemen on sun protection! Ladies hear ‘sun protection’ regularly from our doctors, partially because our skin tends to be more overtly sensitive (easily burns, men tend to have tougher dermis) and partially because I suspect ladies are usually more receptive.
@Jeffery I am so glad you made it through that ok! All of the skin cancer survivors under 30 I know are men and it’s pretty scary. I whole heartedly agree with a full brimmed hat being much better protection but I’m allowing for the ball cap for two reasons 1) it’s still better than nothing and if I can get someone who isn’t in a hat into any hat I’ll take it. 2) when paired with an SPF drape, hood, tube and/or sunscreen it provides reasonable coverage.
One of the areas neglected by almost all outdoors people is covering the ears and a full brimmed hat is much better for those. I use the Uber tube over mine because I hate getting sunscreen in my ears.
@Graham F I agree 100% on eye protection as well, though I tend to be a bit remiss wearing sunglasses because of the eye piece involved in my photography habit. I do carry them and wear them when they are not in the way of photos. For whatever reason (probably because no one likes squinting) most people don’t resist ‘sunnies’ (I like that, I may keep it.) It seems much more difficult to convince people on sunscreen and covering up.
Another point I should make is check your lip chap, your lips are skin too and a lip chap with SPF is easy to find. Plus lip chap can make other conditions such as windburn more bearable.Oct 9, 2019 at 6:59 pm #3613202
Emylene, I understand about the baseball cap. Over the years this topic has come up here and I’ve become a sun protection booster. People…guys…don’t want to hear that their ball caps aren’t terribly functional and get mad at the notion. so yes, something is better than nothing; and in conjunction with other measures a ball cap can be alright.
Thanks for your essay!Oct 9, 2019 at 7:30 pm #3613209Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
You state “Ladies hear ‘sun protection’ regularly from our doctors, partially because our skin tends to be more overtly sensitive (easily burns, men tend to have tougher dermis)”
Say what?? Skin is skin. AFAIK there is no biological difference between male and female. I would grant that females might be more worried about sun protection after decades of messages that sun exposure causes premature aging of the skin.
I had my first carcinoma removed from my left arm. My dermatologist said the left arm (and left hand) is a common place for men because of driving, even with the left driver’s window closed, the harmful UV pass right through the glass.
CheersOct 9, 2019 at 9:09 pm #3613220
Oh no doubt all skin damages, but the overt burn generally is easier for ladies. Which is in fact due to biology and different hormone fluctuations causing increased dermal sensitivity. Men also generally have a thicker dermis with more hair which might also contribute to getting a tan instead of an outright burn. There will be people on all spectrums, even the human vascular and nervous system is completely unique from one person to another.
If you have sun exposure (burn or tan) you are at risk for skin cancer. People who overtly burn are more likely to take precautions, because no one likes blisters.Oct 11, 2019 at 2:26 am #3613473Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
@ Emylene. Thanks for the link. I am always learning new stuff
Cheers!Oct 11, 2019 at 3:04 am #3613476Scott ChandlerBPL Member
@blueklisterLocale: Northern California
I highly urge everyone to also consider the safety of their sunscreen. There is an excellent website that ranks most sunscreens for effectiveness and safety. https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/
Additionally, consider any sunscreen with <span class=”ILfuVd NA6bn”><span class=”e24Kjd”>Oxybenzone</span></span> in it (and many mainstream sunscreens do) it is not only harmful to reefs, but I suspect it’s not good for alpine lakes either. I am experimenting with several brands that are highly rated by ewg.org, but don’t break the bank.Oct 14, 2019 at 7:57 pm #3614038Adam GBPL Member
I highly recommend this Equate brand zinc oxide sunscreen. I’ve never gotten burned with it on as long as I reapply. It’s quite waterproof and sometimes even hard to get off. I’ve definitely found some on my ears days after I get off the trail. It’s reasonably priced. It’s hypoallergenic; my wife has very sensitive skin and has never had an issue with it. The tub tends to leak, and I’ll definitely try the plastic wrap trick next time. The only major downside is that it’s from Walmart, a company that many people have issues with. It says it works on lips, but I’ve found that makes my lips dry out really badly. I use chapstick there.
I do wear a tremendous amount of sun protection (long pants, long shirt, hat covering neck/ears, sun gloves, sunglasses) so I only apply to my face and fingertips. It probably wouldn’t work if you need to apply all over your body.Oct 14, 2019 at 9:00 pm #3614048
I’ve tried zinc/titanium that is nano sized so you don’t see it on your skin, not like the old white stuff
But, it comes off on clothes, sleeping bag, etc. A whitish substance. I quit using it.
I use wide brim hat, long shirt/pants. The sleeves are long enough it covers my fingers. The brim is wide enough it mostly shades all my face. Late in day it’s more likely to get some of my face or neck.
Some sun exposure is okay. If I can prevent 90% that’s probably okay.
they claim we are exaggerating the risk of sun exposure
you need some to make vitamin D and other chemicals. Using sunscreen all the time is a risk. Just taking vitamin D pills doesn’t cover all chemicals produced by sun exposure.
exposure that produces a tan even for people that work in the sun doesn’t have a statistical risk of cancer
even one time of getting sun burned that produces blisters can cause cancer later in life. I did that once when I was 16 years old.
this article is probably controversialOct 14, 2019 at 10:08 pm #3614055
this article is probably controversial
Specialists of all stripes tend toward tunnel vision, and it’s always controversial when someone starts shining light outside the tunnel. No pun intended.Oct 14, 2019 at 11:43 pm #3614076
One of the things I see a lot is people who normally tan, do burn early in the season. I will burn several times in a season without proper sun care. Regardless of how often both of us got a burn which can be a risk factor.
Its also important recognize different areas have higher or lower risk factors. If you engage in water and snow sports you are at a risk for the double whammy reflection burn too. Australia and New Zealand often have a higher UV index and places like northern Canada get sun over 12 more hours of sun a day in summer than some Equator nations (and a full 12 hours less in the winter.)
I think it’s important to note, even if you cover up, you still get some indirect sunlight (and vitamin D.)Oct 14, 2019 at 11:50 pm #3614077
I don’t think specialists are saying that one has to be a vampire. Living in Ca. there’s little chance of NOT getting some sun exposure. I certainly don’t use sunscreen every day before launching out. But then I’m at sea level. When I’m at altitude–or when I’m skiing–and will be out all day, or for many hours, I use sunscreen and a broad brimmed hat and long sleeves and pants, like Jerry.
Use common sense. I think dismissing concerns about increased incidences of skin cancer as “tunnel vision” is counterproductive. People will gladly dismiss concerns over vaping as ‘exaggerated’ if it means they can go on vaping, etc.
You can’t walk back melanoma.
We’ll have to disagree about laying out to get a ‘healthy tan’. I tanned my way over 24 years or so to having a melanona surgically removed.Oct 15, 2019 at 12:10 am #3614079
yeah, that seems crazy to lay out in the sun to get a tan. I remember doing that. Back in the bad old days.
if you did 15 minutes a day that would probably be fine. Or 15 minutes once every few days.
I read that after 15 minutes, the sun starts destroying vitamin D as fast as it creates it so there’s no benefit after 15 minutes as far as vitamin D goes.Oct 15, 2019 at 2:25 am #3614098
I think dismissing concerns about increased incidences of skin cancer as “tunnel vision” is counterproductive.
No one dismissed any such concerns. My complaint is that the anti-sun industry dismisses a lot of other concerns and ignores a lot of data. That is, by definition, tunnel vision.
You can’t walk back melanoma.
But you can apparently reduce your chances of dying from it by a factor of 8 by spending lots of time in the sun. (Yes, your odds of getting it are higher, but they’re apparently swamped by the better odds of surviving.)
My biggest gripe with the Sol-is-the-devil crowd is that so many of them actually recommend wearing sunscreen every day, even if you work indoors, and actually say you should re-apply it every couple hours, even if you work indoors. I think that is foolhardy at best. We know the chemicals in that goop show up in the bloodstream within 30-60 minutes, and the levels continue to rise over multiple days of use (just google it). Can the sunscreen advisors tell me that’s safe? I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.Oct 15, 2019 at 2:29 am #3614099
if you did 15 minutes a day that would probably be fine. Or 15 minutes once every few days.
That doesn’t seem to jibe with the article you linked, RJ. Spending lots of time in the sun seems to have lots of benefits. Not that I’m recommending lying in the sun for a tan. Outdoor activities should be active-ities. :-)Oct 15, 2019 at 3:00 am #3614101
I’m certainly not a ‘sol is the devil’ person. look, by definition backpackers spend tons of time in the sun, often at altitude. lack of sun exposure isn’t our issue. We’re not shut in poet types (oh,wait…I’m sorta that too) who never get out. and we tend to spend time around water and snow as well.
so warning against anti-sun propaganda on a poet forum makes sense. here, I worry that it allows people who do spend lots of time in the sun to dismiss legitimate concerns.
I certainly agree that recommending sun screen indoors is overkill, or even for everyday activities like shopping.
As to the benefits of spending time in the sun: isn’t it the fact that people are active while doing so a factor? Otherwise, laying out tanning for hours would be quite healthy and recommended by dermatologists. It’s not. Au contraire.
So by all means continue to enjoy sun drenched days outdoors! but cover up. You’re still gonna get rays. Hats and pants and sleeves mean that you don’t have to slather goop nearly as much.Oct 15, 2019 at 3:19 am #3614102
As to the benefits of spending time in the sun: isn’t it the fact that people are active while doing so a factor?
As with any observational studies, the cause-effect relationships are unknown, or at least unclear. But there are lots of correlative evidences that *appear* to work against the suggestion that sunscreen is helping us. Time in the sun improves survival. Distance from the equator increases skin cancer. Increased sunscreen use correlates positively with skin cancer rates. Etc. It’s apparently too much to ask that the researchers acknowledge what they don’t know. And from what I’ve seen, they don’t know if sunscreen lowers the risk of skin cancer.
We’re not shut in poet types (oh,wait…I’m sorta that too)
Waiting for your solar sonnet! :-)Oct 15, 2019 at 5:03 am #3614109
Cancer rates are also believed to be reduced by a low sugar diet. An active lifestyle has factors which reduces cravings for sugar and increase time in the sun. Cancer is believed to have a genetic and environmental component and I’m certain skin cancer is no different. Sunburns have a positive correlation to skin cancer rates. Fairer skin and traditionally ‘nordic’ descendants tend to be concentrated in northern regions and therefore that could skew cancer rate stats.
The sunscreen may in fact have a positive correlation to skin cancer rates because sunscreen users feel more confident not wearing hats or baring more skin. Skin is an organ though and it certainly can and does absorb everything we put on it.
Another thought about people further north getting more skin cancer, they also go through time periods of longer sun (up to 24 hours for some) and get double the UV rays off the snow in the winter. Most people completely forget sun protection when the weather is cold.
That’s all conjecture but a valid look at devils advocate for seeing correlation without knowing causation.Oct 15, 2019 at 1:57 pm #3614125
I forget where I read that 15 minutes provides all vitamin D, beyond that it doesn’t matter
https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2018-07-18/how-much-time-in-the-sun-do-you-need-for-vitamin-d says 10 to 15 minutes but doesn’t mention the beyond that part
https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-929/vitamin-d says 1/4 of the amount of time to get a mild sunburn, 2-3 times a week. I think 10 to 15 minutes would be for light skinned people.
I think this subject is confusing, no really good data because of the correlation vs causation problem. It would be unethical to do a study where you randomly assign some people to a control group and then expose them to sun
I don’t think anyone should do what some anonymous person says on an internet web site, but you do get some ideas to check out. Doctors are good sources of information : )
Long sleeves and wide brimmed hat are clearly a good solution. I’ve read that from many sources of information.
Getting some amount of sun, like 15 minutes 2 or 3 times a week is recommended by many sources of information I’ve read but there are many sources of information that recommend no sun and take vitamin D pills. I am skeptical of advice that includes taking a pill, but that’s just me.
I have not seen many sources of the information that even one incident of severe sunburn can cause cancer later in life, but that makes sense and there’s no down side from avoiding a severe burn.
Good discussion, I can see why people involved with skin cancer, like healthcare professionals, are passionate about thisOct 15, 2019 at 2:42 pm #3614133Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
I am one of those individuals due to my younger years as a sun love, working and competitive swimming and life guarding, that has paid the price with skin cancer along with my battle with multiple myeloma cancer. Ever since I was first dx with skin cancer I covered up the body with a cap, long sleeved shirt, pants and gloves when I am out in the sun and on the water…..with the application of sun cream to my face this brand serves me well in the protection of my face and hands. It is effective and does NOT leave your face looking white as when I used zinc oxide in my mountaineering days..
THINKSUN Every Day Face Sunscreen (2oz) – Naturally Tinted
Nov 4, 2019 at 11:21 pm #3617311Sean PBPL Member
- No PABA, parabens, phthalates, oxybenzone, avobenzone, dioxane, or animal products.
- Our sunscreens were the 1st to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements and are t
- Top rated with a “1” rating in EWG’s Skin Deep database since 2010.
- Mineral-based formula
- Does not contain any known reef harmful chemicals. Mineral sunscreens are generally regarded as Reef Safe. Our formulation achieved the highest level of biodegradability (OECD 301B Testing)
- Designed for everyday use
- SPF 30+
- Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 20%
- Water-resistant (80 minutes)
- Broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection (Highest level as proposed by the 2012 FDA Monograph)
- Non-nano formulation – Average particle size >100micron
- Non-aerosol formulation (due to the high concern of both ineffectiveness and particulates being inhaled)
- Sunscreen produced in the USA
- Does not have the obtrusive smell that many organic sunscreens have
- A member of the Safe Cosmetics Campaign Compact
- Travel safe tube size (TSA Compliant – 2 fl oz)
- No animal testing. Leaping Bunny Certified. Vegan Friendly.
@wily_quixoteLocale: S.E. Australia
Here is a link to an evidence based website that discusses the topic, there are links to various other articles, including concerning sunscreen nanoparticles.
this is a reliable academic website:
his is a reliable academic website:
That looks like a good attempt at a fair summary. My one gripe is this, near the end (emphasis added):
So, how can you maximize the benefits of sun exposure while minimizing your risk of skin cancer and aging? The key is to practice safe sun habits, which means using sunscreen and avoiding sunburns.
I haven’t seen the convincing evidence that “using sunscreen” is a good idea. Certainly avoiding sunburns is, but most of us can do that more effectively without dosing ourselves with whatever nasties are in that goop.
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