Getting the opportunity to showcase his natural sunscreen in Rhode Island — where he’s been a Narragansett Town Beach lifeguard for more than 25 years — is an opportunity to prove its worth, says Brian Guadagno, founder and owner of Raw Elements.
This year the state of Rhode Island put dispensers with his sunscreen at all state beaches and parks following a pilot program at the town beach where a few dispensers went up two years ago.
Last year, said Guadagno, more dispensers were added and interest in his natural sunscreen — which does not include chemicals found in many over-the-counter lotions and sprays — also grew beyond the Ocean State.
“We leveraged the pilot program in Narragansett and extended it nationwide where now dispensers can be found in hospitality centers in Hawaii, Colorado, California and Florida, generally around pools, private beaches and on charter boats,” he said.
Some other states have dispensers at some beaches, but not all, and the lotion mostly has chemicals that he contends are more harmful to the body than the food products used to make his natural lotion.
However, his home state of Rhode Island is the first state in the country to provide dispensers at all state beaches, he said, adding that he believes it may be the first state to roll out natural sunscreen at all state beaches.
“Going into this year we wanted to take the footprint model we had in Narragansett and pilot it to the state,” he said, noting that jumping on board were sponsors including the Partnership to Reduce Cancer, South County Dermatology, the state departments of Environmental Management as well as Health, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and Gov. Gina Raimondo.
“We are providing a safe alternative that 1) works, 2) does not have a harmful effect on our bodies and 3) does not have a harmful effect on our oceans and our environment - that’s the big thing, making those safe alternatives available to the public,” he said.
He estimates that his factory in North Carolina produced about 800 gallons of sunscreen this past year for the dispensers in Hawaii, California and Rhode Island. He said that he explored this idea of a natural sunscreen after hearing from a friend about sunscreen dispensers in Boston near a hospital that provides treatment for skin cancer.
“The one thing we have recognized from the Narragansett program and the state of Rhode Island program is that it had generated a great deal of inquiry from many other places and we’re going to try to develop these programs anywhere we can,” he said.
“We’re putting together road map about how to engage local community and a path to assemble a program like this,” he said.
This product and other sunscreens have the primary objective to prevent skin burns and prevent skin cancer that can appear many years after the initial burn or series of burns during a summer.
Slip. Slap. Slop. Yes, that’s the routine for sun bathers, those boating and biking and anyone else having fun in the sun, dermatologists recommend.
Dr. Vincent Criscione of South County Dermatology — and other dermatologists as well — said remembering this simple directive can help to prevent this disease and that’s important because no one can predict the kind of cancer they could get. It can range from easily treatable forms to more serious ones requiring extensive treatment.
Criscione’s recommendations for sun protection are:
Put on sunblock or sunscreen 30 mins before going into the sun and every two hours afterwards. Use thick amounts to cover all exposed skin.
Use wide-brim hats that cover the ears and neck, and give the face more protection. Baseball caps don’t offer this extensive cover.
Use sun protective clothing such as tee shirts, long sleeve shirts and sun protective pants when practical in periods of long exposure to direct sunlight.
Wear sunglasses that give prolonged and wrap-around protection to the ultraviolet rays.
“The survival rate has gone from months to years for prolonging life in many cases,” he said. Prevention and diligence of people checking their own skins can help reduce the incidences of serious skin cancers, he said.