Some time over the next month or so, Malibu residents may notice free sunscreen dispensers popping up in high-traffic and high-sun areas outdoors around town, including beaches, parks and the Malibu Pier. The bright yellow, touch-free dispensers mounted on poles or walls, some with a large umbrella on top, will dispense SPF 30 sunscreen into the hands of anyone who wants it at no charge. The dispensers will remain in Malibu until Oct. 31.
Alex Beck, a 2005 graduate of Malibu High School, is co-founder of the company BrightGuard, which sells the dispensers and the sunscreen. His company has partnered with IMPACT Melanoma, a national nonprofit organization for the prevention of melanoma skin cancers. As part of IMPACT’s “Practice Safe Skin” program, BrightGuard has installed more than 4,000 sunscreen dispensers in a variety of public and private settings across the U.S.—from New York, to Florida, to Nevada.
BrightGuard unveiled its first sun-safety station in the LA area last week on the Santa Monica Pier, kicking off a corporate sponsorship with UCLA Health to install a total of 50 sunscreen dispensers in Santa Monica and Malibu. Beck said there will be 10 dispensers in Malibu, with the first ones in the area of Trancas, Zuma Beach, Westward Beach and the Malibu West Beach Club, working their way south to the Paradise Cove, Cross Creek, Legacy Park and Malibu Pier areas.
UCLA dermatologist Dr. Emily Newsom told the abc7 news team at the Santa Monica unveiling that “One in five Americans will get skin cancer by the time they reach age 70.” She recommended that sunscreen be applied every two to three hours. “Men tend to forget the tops of their heads, their ears, and their necks,” she said. “Women forget their chest areas, and we all forget our forearms while we’re driving.”
Beck said he’s been working with Malibu’s Parks & Recreation Department and city manager to get approvals for the dispenser installations, as well as LA County Department of Beaches & Harbors.
BrightGuard’s dispensers are designed to be as vandalism-proof and maintenance-free as possible, with weather-resistant covers, unbreakable mirrors, tamper-proof infrared sensors, battery-powered pumps and high-capacity refillable inner pouches.
The sunscreen BrightGuard uses in the dispensers is manufactured under its own brand name to their specifications by a company in Florida. However, Beck said they recently reached a deal to partner with Coppertone as their manufacturer starting in 2019.
IMPACT Melanoma states the following facts about skin cancer: One person dies of melanoma every hour; 30 percent of all melanoma in males is on their backs; the most important warning sign of skin cancer is a spot on the skin that is changing in size, shape or color; melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for people ages 15 to 29 (Hodgkin’s lymphoma is first); and the incidence of melanoma is rising faster than that of any other cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other cancers combined. Most cases are caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. UV exposure can be reduced by wearing a hat, shirt and sunglasses, staying in the shade when possible, and putting on a sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection and SPF 30 or higher.
The ACS estimates that 9,320 Americans will die of melanoma in 2018, and that 91,270 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed. Risk factors for all types of skin cancer include skin that burns easily; blond or red hair; a history of excessive sun exposure, including sunburns; tanning bed use; immune system-suppressing diseases or treatments; and a history of skin cancer.