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Rhode Island Is Offering Free Sunscreen at the Beach All Summer Long

Stacey Leasca

Officials in Rhode Island announced this week plans to offer free sunscreen (provided by Raw Elements USA) to visitors at all state beaches and parks throughout the summer.

“Rhode Island's beautiful parks and beaches are some of our most treasured cultural and economic resources, drawing thousands of visitors from across the state and around the county,” Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said in a statement. “Offering complimentary sunscreen stations at our public recreation facilities is an important way we can help people of all ages protect themselves against skin cancer this summer.”

The smallest state isn’t offering just any old sunscreen. Raw Elements is a reef-safe sunscreen using 20 percent non-nano zinc oxide, along with other ingredients including black and green tea extracts, to both protect people from the sun and the oceans from pollution. The sunscreen has been a top-rated sunscreen by The Environmental Working Group for nearly a decade, and was also provided for free to guests staying with Aqua-Aston Hospitality, Hawaii's largest chain of hotels and resorts, in 2017.

Courtesy of Amazon

The brand was started by Brian Guadagno, a Narragansett town beach lifeguard who’s protected the same stretch of shoreline for some two decades. This state-wide initiative is an expansion on a pre-existing network of free sunscreen dispensers in place in Narragansett, where you can still spot Guadagno in a lifeguard tower a few days a week this summer.

“There is such a high density of people enjoying summers here, and now they, as well as state employees, will have access to safe and effective sunscreen literally at their fingertips,” Guadagno said in a statement. “This is a huge win for public health and a national example.”

By providing the sunscreen for free, officials and Raw Elements hope to protect more people from sun exposure.

“We see patients all the time for sunburns and we see tons of skin cancers. We probably treat at least 10 skin cancers a day,” Dr. Vincent Criscione of South Coast Dermatology, told the local NBC affiliate Turn to 10. “Depending on your skin type, you can get a burn within 15 minutes.”

If you'd like some for yourself, you can buy Raw Elements on Amazon or try on of these other reef safe sunscreens for your next outing.