Sunscreen dispensers like this one will soon be installed around Bluffton, offering free squirts of lotion for the public. COURTESY RMK FOUNDATION

Ask any of her friends and family and they will tell you: Jessica Long is something of a freak about sunscreen.

Even before she became a mother, the skin care specialist was adamant that everyone around her wear sunscreen whenever they are outdoors. “My friends know I always ask ‘Are you wearing sunscreen?'” she said.

While visiting Charleston recently, she noticed a sunscreen dispenser at a park, free for the public to use. “Hmm, that’s cool,” she thought.

Her next thought was “Why don’t we have these in Bluffton?”

“We all need sunscreen, all the time,” Long said. Having seen the results of skin cancers on all types of bodies, she said she doesn’t understand why more people don’t use sunscreen regularly.

“Most people are like, ‘I’m going to the beach, going to the pool, so I need sunscreen,'” she said. “Yes, but what about going to the park, or out on a golf cart, or on your boat?”

Long said she did some research, found a source for the dispensers, and learned about costs and logistics. She then contacted Town of Bluffton officials about the possibilities of placing dispensers around town.

“They agreed to place three dispensers,” she said, “but said I would have to raise the money to purchase them.” The dispensers Long selected, through the nonprofit RDK Melanoma Foundation, cost $500 each. Posts for mounting are an additional $100.

Each unit comes filled with 4,000 applications’ worth of sunscreen – at 1 ml each, “a dollop,” Long said – plus a refill with the same amount.

Her fundraising post on Facebook the morning of June 5 quickly resulted in the $1,500 required. By the next day, she had raised $2,500 – enough for two more dispensers.

“All I did was social media,” Long said. “To get that much response in one day – that tells me there’s a need.”

As full disclosure, Long said she does work for a skin care company, unrelated to the Melanoma Foundation or their sunscreen, and “my company has nothing to do with this,” she said. “I just think this is something we need.”

The locations for the first three dispensers are Dubois Park, Oscar Frazier Park, and the boat landing at Oyster Factory Park. Long said the lotion in the park dispensers will be a “sports” formula, while the one near the water will be eco-friendly.

All the sunscreen is organic and SPF 30, with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection.

The Town will maintain and refill the dispensers “from now on,” Long said. “My job was to get them here.”

A spokesperson at the RDK Foundation said Bluffton is the first town to work with them like this, Long said.

She also hopes businesses will want to purchase additional dispensers to place in other parts of town. “I’ll help them get started,” Long said. “You can put your logo on it, put it outside your building, wherever.”

Her personal goal is to have at least dispensers installed around Greater Bluffton. She also would like to see organizations buy the portable dispensers for festivals, concerts, and other outdoor gatherings.

“How cool would that be?’ she said. “So, when you go to a festival and you forgot your sunscreen, or need to reapply it, there’s some right there at the registration table.”

In a side note, Long cautioned that, just like hand sanitizers, soaps and other lotions found in public places, people should use the sunscreen at their own risk. “It’s possible, as always, that some people might have allergic reactions,” she said.

For more information about sun protection and the dispensers, visit melanomafoundation.com. For assistance with purchasing, placing or donating toward more dispensers in Bluffton, contact Long at jlong@zoskinhealth.com.