John Wayne Cancer Foundation Is Here to ‘Block the Blaze’

It doesn’t get much better than summer in Newport Beach. Locals spend their days alternating between refreshing dips in the ocean and barefoot walks along the shoreline, warm sand squishing beneath their feet. There is, however, one glaring enemy to summertime fun: a nasty sunburn.

Not only is a bad sunburn irritating; it’s also unsafe and can eventually lead to skin cancer. According to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation — based in Newport Beach — the figures, unlike a much-coveted tan, are far from pretty:

“Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. with 3.6 million people diagnosed annually, and it is on the rise,” the foundation explains. “One in three Californians will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime.”

In brighter news, 95 to 100% of skin cancer is curable if caught early and treated quickly. John Wayne Cancer Foundation funds an extensive skin cancer awareness and protection youth program called Block the Blaze. (Watch Teen Ambassador Kennedy explain more about it here and check out the program’s involvement with the Newport Beach Junior Beach Lifeguards here.) And so, we asked the experts there to enlighten us on best practices for sun safety.

WEST OCEANFRONT: If I’m at the beach, how many times should I reapply my sunscreen during the day in order for it to still be effective?

JOHN WAYNE CANCER FOUNDATION: Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, or directly after swimming or sweating excessively. 

Is there a recommended SPF we should be using for our kids to be sure they’re staying as sun safe as possible?

We should always be using SPF 30 or higher. We should remember to apply it 30 minutes before going outside as it needs to fully absorb. 

For those who love to surf, swim and generally just play in the ocean, what’s the best way to Block the Blaze? It doesn’t seem like most surfers would stop mid-surf sesh to reapply sunscreen.

We always suggest reapplying sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating excessively, however we can also throw on a wetsuit or rash guard in the water. A rash guard essentially covers half of our body, which means less skin is exposed to UVA and UVB rays.

Beyond sunscreen, what are some other preventative measures that should be taken on a typical beach day?

We should always wear hats, sunglasses (sand and water reflect UV rays), protective clothing (rash guards or wetsuits) and we should seek shade by sitting under an umbrella.

Myth or truth: The sun’s rays are strongest (and most dangerous) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The sun’s rays are typically the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. but it’s important to note the strength of the rays don’t always correlate with how bright the sun is, or how hot it is. We can still receive damage from the sun on a cloudy hazy day.  Even on a cloudy day, up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate the clouds.  

Another myth or truth: If I stay in the shade all day, I don’t need sunscreen.

Myth. Most of us don’t stay in the shade all day, so relying on shade as our only form of sun protection probably isn’t sufficient.    

It’s pretty common for Newport Beach locals to get moving in the morning with a refreshing beach jog. Should sunscreen be applied even in the early morning hours?

Yes. Although the temperatures might be mild, and the sun might not be shining bright, UVA and UVB rays are always present. 

Your foundation works closely with the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards to educate them — and our local youth in general — on sun safety. What’s the most popular question you get that from crowd and how do you answer?

The most common question we receive is:

“Is sunscreen safe? Could the chemicals in sunscreen actually be harmful to humans and/or the environment?”

There are two types of sunscreen: There is physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. We suggest using a physical sunscreen with Zinc. The John Wayne Cancer Foundation has a great physical sunscreen! It’s SPF 50, 80-minute-water-resistant, chemical-free and ocean- and reef-friendly! Plus it has 25% Zinc Oxide and is made in the USA!

If you could get a skywriter to write anything overhead on a really busy day at the beach, what would your message say?