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Living Well Interview Series with Summer Kramer on Natural Ways to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Recorded Live, Puriya’s CSO, Dr. Michele Burklund interview’s Summer Kramer, Skin Cancer Survivor turned Clothing Designer & Founder of UV Sun Protectant Clothing Company SummerSkin. Listen to Summer’s story of how she went from a PharmD to clothing designer after her diagnosis with melanoma, Learn about her passion behind protecting your skin and how you can look fashionable doing it, Get the details of proper garments that protect your skin from the fabric to the weave, and find out what ingredients to avoid when looking for a non-toxic sunscreen.

Read the transcribed version below…

00:02 Dr. Michele Burklund: Hello everyone, my name is Doctor Michele Burklund. I’m the chief science officer here at Puriya, and this is our Living Well series where we interview amazing people in the wellness field every week. And this week we have Summer Kramer, who is the founder of an amazing clothing line SUMMERSKIN, a PharmD, and a cancer survivor. So welcome, Summer. Thank you so much for joining us.

00:28 Summer Kramer: Thank you, yeah, no, this is wonderful. Thanks for taking the time.

00:32 DB: So I will let our viewers get to know you a little better and read your background first, so everybody can kind of understand your passion and how you ended up where you are today.

00:43 SK: Great.

00:43 DB: So, the SUMMERSKIN journey began in 2007 when founder Summer Kramer was diagnosed with a melanoma on her lower left leg. Fortunately, she caught the cancerous mole very early, but it changed her life forever. Following this surgery, and at her dermatologist’s recommendation Summer rolled down her sleeves and started an exhaustive search for fun, stylish, and sun protective clothing. To her dismay all she could find were clothes that were either specifically designed for an outdoor activity, like running, surfing or styles that targeted an older demographic. She wanted… What she wanted with stylish apparel that would protect her skin from harmful UV rays while still maintaining the sense of versatility and expression.

01:30 DB: Something she could feel confident wearing to a picnic or an outdoor function or just walking around the city. And just like that the idea for SUMMERSKIN was born. Being diagnosed with melanoma at the young age of 26, Summer found herself in the position of limited UPF apparel options and the best being forced to choose between her health and style. So now, almost 12 years later, Summer is the mother of an amazing seven-year-old daughter, who considers sunscreen her makeup, which is awesome, and proudly gets ready with her every morning. She reminds her every day about how precious we all are, and her motto in life and business is to follow the path of happiness, find your people, your style, your passion and embrace them with all your heart. It’s a very amazing story.

02:28 SK: Well read. Thank you.

02:30 DB: Right, So, I’ll start with the first question which is for you to tell us more about your journey and how you changed paths from a PharmD, a doctor of pharmacy, to a clothing designer from your experience with melanoma. So tell us more about this.

02:47 SK: Well, I always joke that at some point I’m gonna write a book and I’m gonna call it from Pharmacy to Fashion. And to be clear, too, I still am working as a pharmacist as well, mainly just to stay connected to the healthcare industry as well, and I’m passionate about it. That’s where I started my career, and I actually was diagnosed when I was 26. I was diagnosed while still in pharmacy school.

03:12 DB: Wow, yeah, very young.

03:14 SK: Yeah. And it did, it changed my life. And so if you look at it, obviously I’m gonna totally give away my age, but I was 26 in 2007, and in 2007 the sun protective clothing market was very small. There was not a lot of different brands, not a lot of styles out there and it was really limited to either Safari gear, floppy hat, zip off pants, fly fishing vests, which are fantastic for those activities. But I don’t go on Safari or fly fish. So it was a little odd to have those types of styles just for my everyday life. So it really did start from that basic need. I needed something that I could wear outside and that didn’t make me completely give up my own personal style just because I got melanoma. And especially at a young age, I mean 26, I still cared what I was wearing and what and how… I shouldn’t say still. I care now, but at 26 you really care. And so, we started it out initially just looking at, I’m like, “I need maxi dresses, I need tops, I need easy, comfortable, things that I can just still have a style in.” And we officially launched in 2013. I started the company in 2011, while on maternity leave.

04:35 DB: Wow.

04:36 SK: ’cause that’s what you do when you go on maternity you start…

04:38 DB: You just start everything, yeah.

04:40 SK: Yeah, and my daughter, I need to update my bio ’cause my daughter is now eight. But, you know, small things. But I started on maternity leave, but I spent a good two years doing R and D on fabrics. Because a big piece for me, is I wanted to make sure that we weren’t chemically treating our fabrics in order to make them sun protected. And I didn’t even know at the time if that was possible, everything I saw on the market was either chemically treated or heavily synthetic fibers. And so I spent two years testing hundreds of different blends and different types of fabrics before I even launched or before I even came up with a style because I wanted to make sure it was even possible. So I got diagnosed in 2007, finished Pharmacy School, got pregnant, had my daughter, then started all research and development, and then we launched in 2013, so we’ve been around for six years.

05:42 DB: Yeah.

05:43 SK: It’s amazing.

05:45 DB: Yeah, you’ve been around for… And it’s great that you have that background so you can understand the chemicals, and what you want and what you don’t want on your body too.

05:52 SK: Yeah, absolutely, it is really important.

05:56 DB: So, this is a lot of this I felt like I was learning when I was first introduced to your company about the fabric and the weave and all these amazing things. So, first can you tell us more about UPF?

06:06 SK: Yeah.

06:07 DB: Or what the ultra protection factor and the difference. I love this on your website too, when you compared a regular white t-shirt, and then one of your fabrics as well.

06:19 SK: Great, and this is something… And these are questions that we get all the time. So for one, most people have heard of SPF for sunscreen, 99% of people have not heard of a UPF for fabric. It’s the same principle, it’s the same… So if you go out and get a sunscreen that’s an SPF of 50, if you see a garment that’s a UPF of 50, same principle, same level of protection, it’s just the FTC requires that textiles and apparel are labeled as UPF instead of an SPF. And SPF is Sun Protection Factor, and UPF is Ultraviolet Protection Factor. It’s labeling.

07:00 DB: Okay.

07:00 SK: Same principle. And the reason we do that comparison of the white cotton T-shirt to our SUMMERSKIN fabrics is, I, like many people, when I was growing up, I was not very educated about sun protection, and so for me, I’d be out on vacation, or out, and I’m like, “I don’t wanna re-apply my sunscreen, I’m just gonna put on my white cotton T-shirt that I brought, put it over my bathing suit, and then I’ll be fine.” And then better yet, I’d even say, “Okay, well I still don’t wanna put on sunscreen so I’ll just get in the pool with my t-shirt on,” and thinking that I’m fine. And so we did that comparison, because they… I believe it was the Skin Cancer Foundation or even the American Academy of Dermatology did some testing to show that white cotton t-shirts on average, a standard white cotton T-shirt, has a UPF of only five to seven. So you think about that. The equivalent of getting a sunscreen with a SPF of five, why even bother, right? I don’t even know if they sell that.

08:02 DB: Right.

08:03 SK: And then, on top of that, if you get that white cotton T-shirt, if you get it wet, it lowers the SPF from five down to essentially one or zero. So you effectively have very, very little, if any, protection at all, so… And I did not know that. I really was clueless when it came to that. And so, the SUMMERSKIN fabrics, all of our fabrics, are UPF of 50 plus, which is the highest rating you can give it. And that standard, that UPF 50, similar with an SPF 50 of sunscreen, is gonna block 98% of UV rays. So there’s a big discrepancy too when you start to look at like a UPF or SPF 5, you’re gonna block… At most, you’re gonna block 80% of the rays. And you’re gonna block almost 100%, if you’re using an SPF or UPF 50 plus. So the other question, and I’m just gonna keep going on this topic.

09:06 DB: Go for it. Yes.

09:08 SK: The other question I get all the time, and I actually love when I get this question because so many people don’t know this, is, why do I not tan through my clothes? So every one has this misconception that all clothing is sun protection ’cause you don’t get a tan, right?

09:25 DB: Oh yeah. That’s very interesting.

09:27 SK: I get it all the time and people always look at me like, “Ha! I got you with this question.” Like I’m not gonna have an answer to it. And I… So I love when I get this question. And the main reason is too, is I didn’t know any of this prior to starting the company, but from the sun, the Earth sees three types of UV rays. UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC rays are really detrimental but the atmosphere filters them out before they even affect us. So we’re really only… Humans are only affected by UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are shorter than UVA rays so UVB rays are blocked by glass. So windows block UVB rays. Clothing will block UVB rays, but UVA rays are longer and they are not blocked by the clothing or windows. Standard things that we feel protected behind

10:25 SK: And the really interesting thing about this, is that only UVB rays, those shorter rays that don’t penetrate clothes, that’s the only UV ray that actually creates the tanning process. So our body’s natural warning sign that we’ve had too much sun. UVA rays do not produce any tanning effect. However, they produce the same level of DNA damage in our skin when they hit our skin. So through that white cotton T-shirt, you might get a tan line, you might get that lovely like t-shirt, farmer tan line there, but you’re still getting the UVA ray sun damage through that clothing. And so that’s a big piece. I think it was in the late 90s, I believe, is when the FTC and the FDA required that sunscreens re-do all their formulation to be broad spectrum against UVA and UVB, because prior to that, they were only protecting against UVB rays, so blocking that tanning process but not blocking the UVA ray damage. So, sorry.

11:26 DB: Yeah.

11:27 SK: That’s a bunch of… On my platform, I get really excited about it.

11:29 DB: No, I know. I had no idea either. And so, it’s like UVA is that sneaky one, that can cause the damage and you have no idea…

11:37 SK: Exactly.

11:38 DB: That it’s doing it at any time.

11:41 SK: That’s exactly…

11:42 DB: I had no idea about this.

11:42 SK: No, I know. I really didn’t either. And a great way to kinda remember it, is that UVA is for aging, and UVB is for burning.

11:49 DB: Right, yeah.

11:50 SK: So they’re both creating damage. They’re both creating DNA damage. They’re both creating signs of aging, but that UVA ray, they are like the sneaky ones, ’cause they don’t give you a warning sign.

12:02 DB: Is there one that’s worse than the other or are they both cause damage at the same rate?

12:06 SK: No. I mean, yes. And again, it’s a level of exposure, right? And if you think about it too, they are UV radiation, so they are radiation rays. And I think one thing that happens with this too, is people tend to think, “Oh well, it’s the sun rays,” and they are. It is sun rays and it’s lovely and warm and we love sun rays, but sun rays are actually UV radiation rays. So if we put it in that context, you could see how excessive exposure can lead to cellular damage, and DNA damage that produces those signs of aging, and potentially skin cancer.

12:43 DB: Right. Well I think that’s very good to know. That’s very good to tell our viewers too, because there’s so many little things like that. I figured if I wasn’t getting a tan, then I was okay, that I was covered. So you’re right, very helpful. Yeah.

12:55 SK: Yep. Yeah.

12:58 DB: So I’ll jump in to the next question here.

13:00 SK: Okay.

13:01 DB: And this is more about fabrics, too. I think that most people don’t really know that much about the importance of fabric and when choosing fabrics that protects the skin. And I noticed that you have amazing fabric line called Made In The Shade, which I think is brilliant. And I love how you talk about different trees and everything, that provides everything. Provides 50 plus, which we just talked about. So tell us more about your fabrics. And the different trees and everything. Tell me all about that.

13:30 SK: Yeah. Well, all of that… That kind of hit us. For one, I like to rhyme, so.

13:37 SK: I love the concept though, of creating natural shade, creating a physical barrier to the sun rather than relying on either chemical sunscreens or chemical treatments to fabric. So this concept of where do we run… If we’re outside at a park where do we run to get shade or get out of the rain? We run under a tree. So we wanted to create that kind of… At least the naming and the whole style really around that natural physical barrier to sun. And the piece of that too I, s because we don’t chemically treat, we try to work with natural fibers as much as we can. Now, natural fibers in general are lovely. Linen is wonderful to wear in the summer. And in the sun cotton feels really great to wear. It’s really difficult to make those fibers sun protective because they’re natural and they’re really bulky. So it’s difficult to get a tight knit or weave to the fabric.

14:30 SK: And so what we do, is we take the natural fibers as much as we can and we blend it in with finer fiber, 10 cell or bamboo rayons, spandex. We try to create the right blends, so that we can get a high enough UPF, but also feels really nice and breathable and wearable all summer. Because denim is cotton and it’s sun protective. Denim, straight up denim jacket is sun protective, but when it’s 95 you don’t wanna wear your denim jacket or a parka. It has to be a good balance of something that is sun protective but also you enjoy putting on and you will wear it and it’s comfortable. So that’s kind of that concept of the “Made For Shade” is really that idea of that natural physical barrier. How do we achieve that? And how do we get there without having to add chemicals and keeping that light nice natural airy feel for the summer?

15:33 DB: I love that. I know, and I have some of your clothes. I need to get more. I need to go check out the newest collection. They feel amazing, it’s like they’re light, they’re perfect for the sun too, they don’t feel like you’re wearing a huge amount. So you definitely found that balance and…

15:47 SK: Well thank you.

15:49 SK: And for me too is, I’m all about comfort in my style. If I can find a way to look stylish in my pajamas, I’m gonna find a way to make that happen. And so I think a lot of it too is we’re always trying to find fabrics that are incredibly soft to the touch and that you want to wear whether it’s warm or whether it’s cold or that you just wanna wear year-round, that’s a big goal.

16:13 DB: Yeah, I love that. So, I’ll jump on to the next question. Since we’re talking all about fabric and this one is from what I understand, the tightness of the weave and then the color of the fabric also plays a role in sun protection. So tell us more about that, about the different weaves and then the colors too.

16:30 SK: So if you… Obviously, there’s two types of fabrics, there’s the woven fabrics, and then there is knit fabrics. So knit fabrics are like your jersey t-shirt fabrics, stretchy fabrics, legging fabrics, woven… Like this dress I have on here is a woven fabric, shirting fabric. And there are two different styles of fabric, but they do have a different knit or weave to them. And it’s important for us to know that as we go in and we look for fabrics or develop our own fabrics as well. Because a big piece of that is if you have a bulky fiber, like I have tried to make hemp sun protective. I have tried and tried and tried, and I can’t make it sun protective. But I have a goal that I’m gonna get there one of these days. Because it’s a really bulky fiber in itself, so the individual threads are really bulky, it’s difficult to get a tight knit. An example I give a lot is, you can get cotton or linen or hemp. You could get those to be sun protective, but they would have to be so tightly woven or knit together that it starts to feel like sofa fabric, just like upholstery fabric.

17:41 DB: Yeah yeah.

17:42 SK: That is not comfortable. And people are not gonna want…

17:45 DB: Yeah that’s tough.

17:46 SK: Right? And so they do play a huge role. And so if you think about it, I was… For some reason my brain goes into this concept of a pergola. So you have more like a lattice or a pergola where you have some level of a barrier, but you have holes and you have areas where the sun’s still gonna get through. So if you think of it like a lattice, and so the bulkier the fabric, the looser the weave, the more sun… The more UV rays are gonna get through. And then naturally color and dyes play a role into sun protection as well. So the darker fabrics are inherently more sun protective which there also can be warmer. However, when you have sun protective fabric, no matter the color, and this… I kind of challenge everyone to test this out on their own with what they have. Because a question I get all the time is, I don’t wanna wear black in the summer it’ll be too hot.

18:41 SK: However, and that can be true, but what I’ve found and what we’ve done in just our overall testing is that no matter the color, if you have sun protective clothing on, you’ll ultimately feel cooler because you’re keeping more of those UV rays off of your skin. Especially if it’s a loose-fitting garment. You get some more air flow, and you’ll actually feel cooler regardless of the color. But I’ve done, through all of my fabric testing, I’ve done testing where I get a really high quality cotton shirting fabric, a woven fabric, and I look at it and it’s so tightly knit and it’s really expensive and it’s gorgeous, and this has to be sun protective, it absolutely has to be. I can’t see through it, It’s the highest quality shirting, cotton fabric I can find. And then I get it tested and it’s a UPF of one. And I go, “How can that possibly be?” And again, it comes down to the fibers themselves. So, it’s really important that we understand what fibers are being used in those individual fabrics.

19:44 SK: Because a big piece of it too, we need that to hold up across the lifetime of the garment. So, it might be right when it’s woven or it’s knit, maybe it’s sun protective right at that moment, but if you don’t have the right blend of other fibers in there, those fibers can start to come apart and maybe even after four or five washings, they’re no longer sun protective. So, we do add in spandex, we do add in things that are gonna help retain the shape of the garment and the fabric so that we don’t lose that sun protection.

20:14 DB: Right, right, I think that’s very important too, ’cause the longer you wear it, you’re right, things can happen. But just the idea of wearing clothes and wearing stylish clothes instead of having to put on sunscreen all over your body. We still recommend sunscreen, but…

20:33 SK: We’ll always recommend sunscreen, but the reality too is most of us, even myself included, we don’t usually put on enough for it to be truly as effective as the label says. We don’t usually put on enough. And let’s be really honest, most of us do not re-apply it every hour-and-a-half to two hours.We don’t usually do that ’cause it’s not practical for life. So, it’s trying to find the right balance between, “Okay, we’re gonna have most of our body covered with some protective clothing,” and then saving smaller areas of the skin like arms and hands and face for using sunscreen, ’cause it’s easier to re-apply on those smaller areas.

21:14 DB: Right. Definitely. Well, that’s the perfect intro to our next question too, because I wanna talk to you about sun protection and different creams, ’cause you’re a huge advocate for a clean skin care and sun protection, which we value a lot here at Puriya. It’s the perfect combination, and you have this amazing background where you have all of this knowledge to really decipher and understand what’s a good product, what you’re putting on your body, and what you wanna stay away from in that way. So, tell us your knowledge on the chemicals to avoid and the importance of wearing sun protection.

21:55 SK: Well, this is a great question, this is very timely, because I’m sure a lot of people have seen the articles and stories that have been coming out lately about different tourists and vacation spots that are starting to ban sunscreens. I know that Hawaii and Key West have banned the sunscreens that harm the coral reefs. And I believe those regulations, I don’t think they come into play until 2021. However, they are effectively being put into place right now. Mainly, just they’re not being sold, they’re not really allowed to prohibit it but they’re definitely discouraging people from using certain components in sunscreens that harm the coral reef. So, we’ll go into a few of those. There’s two in particular that we know have been banned in certain tourist locations. One is Oxybenzone, and then the other is Octinoxoate. And those are commonly found in chemical sunscreens. So, not in the mineral based sunscreens, in the chemical sunscreens.

23:04 SK: Oxybenzone, less and less common. For the last, I wanna say, five, seven years or so, more and more studies have been coming out showing that Oxybenzone does absorb through our skin and can mimic an estrogen hormone in our bodies. And so, there’s been a decent kind of push towards for sunscreen manufacturers to move away from that product. It’s still out there. It’s definitely still out there, but it’s becoming less and less common. Octinoxate and Avobenzone are two other products that are in the chemical sunscreens that are most likely… Avobenson hasn’t been banned yet, but it’s probably next on the list after these two. And that sunscreen ban is only gonna continue to increase over time as a lot of these tourist destinations, especially when it comes to coral reefs, but really just sea life and an aquatic life in general as they start to enact this, because we’re seeing just the detrimental effects to the environment from these components. Not to mention just on our own bodies. I think there was a really big push…

24:06 DB: Right, definitely.

24:08 SK: Right? And there’s a big push, it was probably about five or six years ago, with Oxybenzone, to remove that from the market. And because it mimics hormones in our bodies, we were most concerned about that product being put on children on a consistent basis, because we weren’t really sure what those long-term effects would be. So, those are the ones that have been in the news lately, and we’ve probably heard them or seen them in articles that are getting the most press. The other products that I try to stay away from as much as possible is nanoparticles. So, anytime… And in a lot of the sunscreens now you’ll see a little note on there that says non-nano. And so, nanoparticles, all those are is taking components down to a very, very tiny size. And the goal with that, the reason they even exist was to create formulations that were more pleasant to apply to the skin. However, over time, we found because those particles became so much smaller, that we are able to absorb them. We are finding them throughout the environment now as well, and we’re not sure what those long-term effects are gonna be. It could be that there isn’t a huge negative impact, but because we don’t know, I personally try to avoid them, if possible.

25:26 SK: And then, in general, which you can probably speak to too, I try to stay away from parabens, synthetic fragrances. A lot of the standard skin care products that… Preservatives, other products. I kinda live by that rule that if you really can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t wanna put it on your body.

25:44 DB: Exactly, exactly. Definitely.

25:47 SK: So, those are the ones that I try to stay away from. And really, what ends up happening is a lot of those products are found in what is called chemical sunscreens versus mineral sunscreens. So, our longest-standing, most tried and tested and true mineral sunscreen is zinc oxide. We’ve been using it for decades and decades and decades. It’s safe for the body, it’s safe for the environment, and it provides the highest level of sun protection that’s out there. And initially, when we were using that decades and decades ago, everyone kinda remembers it as the big white line on their nose or on their cheeks. Sunscreen companies have come a really long way and be able to create zinc oxide formulations that are not just the big white stick. They’re really pleasant to apply. So, I always look for my sunscreens, I look for a zinc oxide mineral sunscreen, non-nano formulation. And then, also avoiding any Petrolatum or mineral oil deposits, ’cause those don’t really biodegrade in the environment. And then, looking… And just staying away from any parabens or synthetic fragrances. And the company that we work with SUMMERSKIN is Supergoop.

27:05 SK: They are one that I use all the time. And they have both, they have mineral and they have chemical sunscreens that are out there. But from what I’ve found, they are very focused on creating products that are as clean as they can get them to be, and they have a huge push right now of going almost purely 100% mineral sunscreens as well. They have a new product out right now that can be found on our website too. It’s 100% mineral matte sunscreen, and I kid you not, I do not wear makeup at all anymore. That’s all I put on in the morning, is their mineral matte sunscreen. So, there’s… For me, when it comes to that, there’s always things to look for to avoid and components that you wanna seek out, that you would like to include. But my response to everyone when they ask me for a recommendation for sunscreen, my response to everyone is, “Here are all the little components, this is all my recommendations, but honestly, at the end of the day, the best sunscreen is the one you’re gonna wear, 100%. The one you’re gonna wear. Because I can make all the recommendations all day long, if you don’t like how it feels, you’re not gonna put it on. And that sunscreen is not doing you any good if you’re not wearing it.”

28:24 DB: Yes, no, I completely agree. It’s the consistency aspect for me, too.

28:31 SK: Yeah, some of them can be very thick and uncomfortable.

28:37 DB: Or you put it on in the morning or something, but it’s… Yeah, the commitment that I need to be better at to during the day. I admit that though.

28:45 SK: Don’t we all, though? Yeah, the daily routine, absolutely.

28:48 DB: Yeah. But I love SUMMERSKIN, just because it’s such a brilliant idea, and not that many people completely know how important it is to what you put on your body, too, these days. So, yeah…

29:05 SK: Well, and… Yeah, I would say it’s… The piece of it, too, I think people are still very limited to activity-specific sun protection, right? So… And that comes, sunscreen and sun protective clothing, they really are still in this “I only need it while I’m on vacation,” or “I only need my sunscreen and sun protection if I’m out doing an activity like kayaking or biking or hiking.” And that’s wonderful, absolutely, keep doing that. If you’re outside, you wanna make sure you’re practicing sun protection too. But it’s an incidental, just kind of activities of daily living that we forget about it. So, walking to and from the car, walking up and down the street if you’re shopping, or having lunch outside, or things that you might not think you’re getting much exposure, but really, at the end of the day, that’s where we’re getting most of our exposure that accumulates over our lifetime because we spend most of our time doing our day-to-day activities, not necessarily on vacation. I would love to live on vacation all the time, but I don’t.

30:05 DB: Wouldn’t we all? Wouldn’t we all?

30:07 SK: Exactly.

30:09 DB: So, here’s a quick question for you too. Besides wearing sunscreen and clothing for skin protection, what other lifestyle practices would you advise our viewers to protect their skin, since you’ve been such… You’ve been so focused on it for many years now that you have a lot tips and ideas on this too.

30:28 SK: Yeah, so, there’s the sunscreen, sun-protective clothing. There’s also the standard, make sure you seek shade at peak hours. If you can try to not have extended exposure to the sun between 10:00 and 4:00 PM. I love this one, it’s very accurate. That’s the peak hours. It’s also right in the middle of the day, when everyone wants to do all the things outside. So, I think we say this all the time, is try to avoid exposure during those hours. We also know that might not be completely practical, so that’s where sunscreen and sun protection, sun-protective clothing comes in. And just awareness overall. I think the big lifestyle change for me and for my daughter and my husband was really just to say,”Okay, how do I make this part of my daily routine? How do I make a lifestyle switch where I’m aware of sun protection and that I make it part of not only my morning routine but then throughout the day?” And it’s a concerted effort. You’ve gotta think about it, just the same way you think about brushing your teeth or taking a shower. It has to become part of that routine, and then, you do think about it all the time.

31:39 SK: It’s easier said than done. I obviously have a very focused effort on it. Not only am I a melanoma survivor, but I have a sun-protective clothing company, so it’s in my life every day, whether I want it to be or not. So, there’s that piece. The other thing that I do too, and it’s easy to do, or easier to do in the summertime, at least here in the Northwest, is added antioxidants to my diet. I have an obsession with blueberries, an absolute obsession.

32:06 DB: Love it. I do too.

32:08 SK: I’m with you, yeah. I have to monitor and measure out my blueberry intake in the summer. But it’s things like that, of really focusing on whole foods, clean foods that add the antioxidants and nutrients to our diets, because that’s gonna inherently provide more protection within our skin as well. The other piece of it is, when it comes to skin cancers and aging, signs of aging as well, the most important piece we have is prevention and early detection. So, for me, it’s, yes, there’s the prevention piece that has the sunscreen and the sun-protective clothing and all of those components, that’s really focusing on the prevention piece, the awareness. But for the early detection piece for skin cancers is one of the most important aspects we can find because, especially when it comes to melanoma, if we catch it early in its earliest stage, it’s 99 to almost 100% curable with surgery alone. However, it becomes… The prognosis rapidly declines as that cancer spreads through the different layers of the skin. So it is one of those cancers that we can, just with lifestyle modification, prevent the vast majority of. So, the early detection is so important, and the best way to do that is monthly skin checks. Just get to know your skin, say “hello,” and do your monthly skin checks and see if you find anything changing.

33:36 SK: You know your skin better than anyone else, even your doctors. You’re gonna notice first if something’s changing or new or different. And so, for me, I obviously do that and I actually, ironically, just had two excisions done today, earlier today. So, it’s very timely that we’re having this interview. Because it is something for me where I focus on making sure that I am aware of my body and if anything’s changing. There’s the classic kind of ABCDEs of melanoma and of skin cancer, which I would love… We don’t have time to go through, but have everybody read into and know, but the most important thing I tell everybody is just be aware if some thing’s changing on your body. And that’s a big one. This little tiny one that I had on my hand taken off today, it was teeny, teeny, tiny, like I just got a little mark from a pen, but it’s brand new. It showed up only about three months ago and it was on the palm of my hand. So for me… I don’t know, it might come back totally fine, but for me, that is new and that is different and you shouldn’t have moles on the palm of your hand.

34:44 SK: So, I had to take that off. That’s the big thing from a lifestyle perspective is, there’s those two buckets, where you have prevention and you have early detection. So, if some thing’s new, you just get in there and keep your annual appointments either with just your primary healthcare provider or your dermatologist, if you have one. And if anything looks new or crazy, go in and get it checked out. And I live by that motto, “When in doubt, cut it out,” ’cause you just don’t want something sitting longer than it has to.

35:17 DB: Right, right. Especially on prevention, you can do so much at that phase where there’s so much opportunity if you cut it early.

35:24 SK: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, and on top of that too, there’s skin cancer, but then on the aging front, 90% of all the signs of aging is due to sun exposure, 90%. When we’re at conferences and trade shows and all that, we always like to, when appropriate, like to make the joke that we’re cheaper than Botox, because 90% of the signs of aging truly are due to sun exposure and preventable, so you see those pictures of celebrities all the time where they’re out with their parasols or they’re standing under a tree because they know the value of what that means, to having all that excess sun exposure.

36:01 DB: Right, right. I know, it’s… Just the aging part alone, it’s crazy how much it’s just related to being outside.

36:11 SK: Yes. Exactly.

36:13 DB: There’s so much we can do on that.

36:15 SK: So much, but at the same time too, SUMMERSKIN really exists because I don’t ever wanna tell anyone that they can’t go outside. I don’t ever want anyone to think that they have to avoid the sun and they can’t go outside. It’s a matter of just finding the right products that you love so that you can live outside, but live outside safely.

36:36 DB: Exactly, exactly. Here at Puriya too, our whole goal is to get people outside, to be one with nature…

36:41 SK: Yes, absolutely.

36:43 DB: But to do it in a healthy way and to know that balance too.

36:45 SK: Yes. Exactly, exactly. The last thing we wanna give is this impression that the sun is awful and you can’t go outside and you have to avoid it. No, absolutely not. Like, that’s… Being in the sun is one of my absolute favorite things. Is it a little scarier now for me because I’ve had my diagnosis? Yes, it is a little scarier, which is sad, but at the same time, that’s not gonna stop me. I’m still gonna go outside, I’m gonna still live my life. I just have to take a little extra precaution.

37:14 DB: Right. And we’re meant to be outside, we’re not meant to be inside all the time.

37:19 SK: No.

37:19 DB: It’s therapy.

37:21 SK: Yes, exactly.

37:23 DB: I see one last question and this will be great for our viewers to tell us more about the clothing line you have and what you have inside of it. And also, the hat I have from your clothing line a while ago is still my all-time favorite hat. Like I wear it…

37:38 SK: Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.

37:38 DB: To the beach and everywhere and it’s perfect. So, tell our viewers more about all the range of things you’re offering too.

37:47 SK: Yup. So I will say we’re probably a little low on stock at the moment ’cause it’s July, and that happens to us. But we do know two of our best selling products that we have are endless summer wrap and our Dolman tops and mainly because those are two products that are super, super easy to grab or have in your bag and just take with you throughout your day, wherever you’re gonna go. And we’re really happy to say that we have a restock coming in probably next week. So, we need everyone to sign up for the newsletter if they want an announcement, because I know we’ve been getting a lot of emails why we’re out of stock in our endless wraps. But we do focus, at least for my intention in the beginning and now to this day, is to create easy pieces that fit into your wardrobe, your existing wardrobe. So we do a lot of solid colors and stripes that will… Can incorporate into your own personal style, whatever that may be. And so we do maxi dresses, midi dresses, skirts, tops. We have wraps and hats and sunscreen and sunglasses. And we’re trying to have the range of products available that you can have a bag set. You can have your SUMMERSKIN all packed in a bag.

38:58 SK: So if you know you’re spending the time outside, you can just grab that bag and you know you’re gonna have everything you need in it, and you can just hit the town. And so, for us…

39:07 DB: Perfect.

39:07 SK: A big focus is to have that. Right now, we do only have women’s. And I know that I’ve had a lot of comments that men feel left out and that was not my intention. I just know how to design women’s clothing better than men’s clothing. So, we are looking to expand, and a big focus for us too is that we’re very mission-driven. So our mission for our company is that we’re increasing access to some protective clothing and increasing awareness to the importance of sun safety. So everything that we do is very intentional and we’re a small company. So when you see that we’re sold out of something or if you see that we haven’t had a style in a while, we welcome that. We wanna hear. Like, if you wanna see something come back, just send us an email, send us a note and/or ideas. We love ideas.

40:02 SK: So if you have something, a specific style that you’ve been searching for in the market and you haven’t been able to find that sun protective or that would just make your life easier, we wanna hear about it, because that’s something for us. We can be a little flexible, right, with the styles that we create. And yeah, we also try to partner with non-profits as well, so that we can increase access to that information and education piece. So, our website is yoursummerskin.com, which is very intentional, ’cause SUMMERSKIN is my skin. So the whole website is for you, it’s yoursummerskin.com.

40:41 DB: Perfect.

40:42 SK: And yeah, which is our main source and you can also contact us through the website as well. So we’ll get back to you as soon as we possibly can.

40:52 DB: Perfect. Well, thank you so much. You’ve educated us on so many things, from fabrics and weaves and colors and what can help in the sun and what can’t and what products to use. So you’ve been amazing and helpful. And our viewers can find you at yoursummerskin.com too.

41:09 SK: Absolutely.

41:10 DB: And check out the current collection, which is the perfect time for it.

41:13 SK: Yes. And the restock is coming in.

41:19 SK: Awesome. This was so great. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about this topic. It’s so near and dear to my heart.

41:25 DB: Yeah, yeah, I’ve learned a lot just talking to you about it even more. So thank you too. Have an amazing day and we will connect soon, I’m sure.

41:36 SK: Yes, we will. Thank you so much.

41:38 DB: Thank you so much, Summer.

Want to connect with Summer?  Click here

 

We named our interview series ‘Living Well’ based on the Ancient Greek term Eudaimonia translating to “doing and living well”. The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle uses this term in relation to balance in all areas of life. At Puriya, we believe that living well encompasses much more than health but all aspects of life.

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