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Sun Protection 101 for Redheads From a 6-Time Melanoma Survivor

Edited: September 14, 2022

By Guest Writer: Kim Wacker

Did you know redheads make up 16% of the world’s population of melanoma patients. We are genetically more susceptible to getting skin cancer because we carry what’s called the MC1R gene. That means we need to be especially cautious when we’re out in the sun.

As a 6-time melanoma cancer survivor who has volunteered at melanoma awareness events across the country and am a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, I’d like to share six things I’ve learned from dermatologists and cancer specialists over the years.

1. Always wear a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 30. 

According to the professionals, it’s not necessary to use a sunscreen with more than an SPF of 30. Although, it is recommended that you reapply your sunscreen every hour and especially after getting in the water. Don’t forget to wear at least a 15 SPF lip balm too – lips can burn!

2. Buy sunscreen that it is “Broad Spectrum,” which means it provides protection from BOTH UVA and UVB rays.

Kim Wacker at a Melanoma Research Foundation volunteer event

These sunscreens will (many times) also include a label stating that the product is approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

3. Wear protective clothing when you know you’re going to be in the sun for extended periods of time.

There are several companies that sell hats, shirts, shorts and more that are all made with what’s called UPF “Ultraviolet Protection Factor” fabric.

One of my favorite online stores that was recommended by my dermatologist is Coolibar.

READ: 8 Stylish Sun-Safe Pieces Redheads Should Pack This Summer 

4. Don’t forget your sunglasses!

The sun can damage your eyes just like it can your skin, so be sure to protect those beautiful eyes of yours too.

5. The most dangerous time for sun exposure is between the hours of 10AM-2PM because ultraviolet rays are the strongest.

Be sure to be super diligent with your sunscreen application when you’re outdoors, and seek shade.

6. Slather on (about) a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover the whole body and reapply every two hours. 

This is important to remember or else you may end up getting a sunburn if you’re outside for a long period of time.

My personal favorite sun care product line is Hawaiian Tropic. If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want is to smell like sunscreen or feel sticky. I love that these items have a weightless, light feel and they smell good too.

Here are my top 4 “go to” ‘Redhead Friendly’ sunscreens:

  1. Facial sunscreen: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Face Sunscreen SPF 30
  2. Body sunscreen: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Clear Spray Sunscreen SPF 30
  3. Lip sunscreen: Hawaiian Tropic Tropical Lip Balm SPF 45
  4. After sun care: Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun Lotion

Remember, we don’t need to be afraid to go out in the sun as redheads. We just need to be fiercely prepared!

Rock it like a Redhead!