In The Sun



Dr. ILYAS has been in practice for almost 15 years. She started her solo practice from scratch 10 years ago with one patient, and have grown my practice to over 30,000 patients. Every week, she see over 150 patients for skin cancer screenings. She sees most of these patients once a year to monitor their skin for changes.  
 
After years of these screenings, she has noticed alarming trends in sun safety. Although she constantly provides warnings about the risks associated with sun exposure, she frequently sees patterns of sun damage in her patients.
 
The neck, the V area of the chest, forearms and backs of the hands consistently reveal evidence of sun damage relative to the rest of the body. Keep in mind that these warning signs are seen in people who are so aware of skin cancer that they are making time to come in for routine screenings!
 
She asks each of her patients this question during skin exams: “Do you think you are taking measures to protect yourself from the sun by wearing sun block or avoiding peak hours of sun exposure?” The answer is almost always “yes,” with an occasional “most of the time.” 
 
Many patients add “I always wear sun block — you should see me at the beach!” By the end of these exams, when ask if there are any more questions, I am often asked “Is my sunscreen from last year still OK to use?”

So, this is where there is a communication gap about sun smart behaviors.  Somehow, with all of the warnings and media attention given to skin cancer awareness, there seems to be a belief that we only run the risk of sun damage when we seek out the sun. In other words, people are under the impression that only the sun at the beach or the pool is a problem.  However, daily sun exposure — driving in the car, watching the kids play soccer, walking the dog, shopping, having lunch outside — is not taken into consideration.  
 

Now this is interesting. The sun at the beach is the exact same sun we see every day. The sun at the pool is the same sun we see daily. When we spend any time outdoors, why wouldn’t we need to take the same precautions? We know that we are supposed to brush our teeth daily, not just when we eat chocolate, right?!
 
When she suggests daily sunblock use, these are the most common complaints she tends to hear:
 
“I don’t like the way sunblock feels.”
“Wearing sunblock makes me smell like the beach.”
“I never remember to wear it every day.”
“I don’t have the time to put on sunscreen everyday.”
“Wearing sunblock makes me feel sticky.”
“I think I sweat more when I wear sunblock.”
“I don’t want to wear chemicals on my skin every day.”
“I need my Vitamin D!”
 
She can understand these obstacles. She has had these same thoughts every day as well.  
 
When she considers the issues with sunblock use, she cannot fault her patients for their views. However, she also cannot ignore the fact that the incidence of skin cancer is increasing every year. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with estimates showing that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. Between 1994 and 2014 there was a 77% increase in the diagnosis and treatment of non melanoma skin cancer alone. It is truly an epidemic.  

She began asking herself this question: “How can I serve my patients more effectively in terms of preventing skin cancer?” Simply screening their skin and removing skin cancers without considering how to stop them from developing hardly seemed ethical.
 
In the course of my day, there are certain things she catches herself saying quite a bit. One of those things is “the left car window does not effectively block UV rays. Please remember to wear sunscreen even when you drive.”  She says this because there is a clear left-sidedness to some skin cancers.   
 
While driving home one day, she stopped at a red light. She looked down at her arm and realized just how much sun she was getting on that hot July day. She frantically looked in her car for a tube of sunscreen. As a good dermatologist, of course she had one. However, when she went to apply it, the tube was so hot the product had melted into a fine liquid that spilled all over her clothes! 
 
That’s when it occurred to her: what if my short sleeve shirt had a simple feature to allow me to just pull down my sleeve to cover my arm when exposed to sun. No need for messy sunscreen, and no need to remember to always have some with me. After all, if this was a design element, I could simply use it when needed.
 
When shopping for clothing with built-in sun protection, she realized that the only options available were beachwear or athletic wear. She couldn’t find any stylish, attractive options for daily professional wear. 
 


As a woman on the go, she drops her kids off at school every morning, runs to the office to see between 30 to 40 patients, then heads back to pick up the kids from school. She often watch one of my children’s baseball games, then head home and have dinner.  I needed clothing that would allow me to do all of this and not have to go through a wardrobe change!  
 
This is why her clothing line, AmberNoon, was born. She realized that in order to impact as many lives as possible and do her part to reduce the risks of skin cancer, she could provide safe sun protective clothing that also effectively educates patients on the need for daily UV protection.

 
She designs every item and integrated elements to protect women’s skin from daily UV exposure, beautifully.  She carefully selected and tests each textile in the line to make sure that it has protection against UVA and UVB without added chemical for sun protection. She understood and listened to her patients concerns about wearing added chemicals for protection in their products.


 
There has been so much positive feedback and press coverage that we can only hope that our clothing will result in a reduction in the incidence of skin cancer!  Our customers often contact us to say, “Thank you. I love that your clothing makes me look good and protects me from the sun at the same time.”
 
These comments have made our efforts so worthwhile!