What to pack for a sun-safe Memorial Day Weekend

A baby sits under a beach umbrella wearing sunglasses and a hat.

Whether you’re kicking off the summer with a trip to the beach this Memorial Day weekend or headed to another destination soon, sun protection should be at the top of your packing list. Not only can sunburn be painful, but more than five sunburns in your life can double your risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Skin cancer is super common, but it doesn’t have to be–it’s often preventable and can be detected early with annual skin checks.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is a member of the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention and will join other organizations in observance of “Don’t Fry Day” the Friday before Memorial Day to encourage sun safety this summer and throughout the year.

Use this checklist to make sure you’re packing the essentials to protect your skin on your next getaway. Even if the forecast calls for clouds, it’s still important to protect your skin — you can still get sunburned on a cloudy day. And remember, this applies to everyone, no matter your age or race. Here’s what you want in your bag:

  • Sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) with at least SPF 30. Be sure to pack enough for everyone to reapply every two hours (or more often if you are swimming or sweating).
  • Sun-protective clothing. Covering up is a great way to stay protected, but some fabrics are more effective than others. Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) labels can help you find clothing that is most effective against the sun’s rays, on a scale from 15-50+ (higher numbers indicate better protection). Tightly-woven fabrics (like denim) will provide better protection than those that are more loosely-woven (like cotton). Brighter colors also provide more protection than white or lighter-colored clothing.
  • Wide-brimmed hat. A hat with a wide brim can help protect your scalp as well as your face, ears and shoulders.
  • Sunglasses. Check the label of your sunglasses to make sure they provide 100% UV protection or UV 400 protection.
  • Lip balm. Don’t neglect your lips! Wear lip balm that has SPF of 30 or more.
  • Umbrella or tent. Ideally you should avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the rays are strongest. An added benefit? Early morning and late afternoon are when beaches and pools are less crowded! If that’s not possible, be sure to pack (or rent) a large beach umbrella or tent to shield your group from the sun. These days, there are tons of options out there, so search around to find what might be most effective for your group.

Learn more about sun safety and skin cancer and stay skin healthy!