Embracing the skin you’re in can be tough. It’s not typically attractive to be pale and it’s nice to feel tanned. For most, tanning is a sign of health and sometimes the only good thing about coming home after a holiday is getting compliments on your tan. I’m naturally quite a tanned person but I still like to look like I’ve been in the sun because it makes me feel more confident. But the truth is, tanning and the effects of the sun are dangerous.
I have been working with Cancer Research UK on their #OwnYourTone campaign to raise awareness for skin cancer – especially for young people. Not only is this a great opportunity for me, there is no way I would refuse the chance to talk about such an important subject. Melanoma, or skin cancer, is the UK’s fifth most common cancer. Skin cancer is usually survivable with treatment and easily prevented with care.
Sitting in the sun is so lovely, especially considering how rare it is to catch some rays in the UK, but it’s also not safe if you’re not completely protected. Sunburn is not healthy. You may think it will heal, you’ll eventually look less like a tomato and the effects will disappear but the sun can be so damaging to your skin even if you can’t see it. Properly protecting your skin is the way forward. Here’s a few tips to stay safe in the sun and to best prevent melanoma.
It’s important to pay attention to the time when you’re enjoying the sun. It’s easy to have an unintentional nap and fall asleep in the sun and this could probably be the worst thing to happen. The most dangerous hours of the day to spend in the sun are between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at it’s strongest. Seeking shade in this time is important, be it a tree or moving inside. Use this time on your holidays to grab a drink at the bar or have some food, as long as you’re not exposing yourself to the sun for long periods of time. Move a parasol to sit under, you’ll be surprised how much the sun can still reach you and if it’s important to you, you can still work on your tan in the shade. The shade prevents UV rays damaging your skin.
Being in the sun feels amazing but it does make you hot and want to wear less clothing because it’s sticky and sweaty and gross. You’re obviously more likely to get burnt wearing less clothing. It’s best to cover up. Your shoulders should be covered when you can, a key place for burn to take over. Wearing light, flowy dresses and tops will keep you cool all whilst keeping the UV rays from detrimentally effecting your skin. Avoid wearing mesh or lace because these materials still allow the sun through. Sunglasses are an essential accessory to protect your eyes whilst still ensuring you’re looking good. But be careful, cheap pairs of sunglasses will not have uv lenses and will do little as a form of sun damage protection. A wide brimmed hat is a great way to look good but still shade your face – I’ll definitely be looking for a nice one next year.
It may sound obvious but suncream is so important both on your face and body. As someone who uses a lot of makeup, I have a few products with SPF in them but this is never okay to be used on it’s own. I personally use the Benefit Dream Screen which is oil free so never breaks me out and has an SPF of 45. It’s my favourite because it blends into my face really nicely and a little goes a long way. You need to be using at least an SPF of 15/UVA 4* but if you’re more sensitive to the sun, you’ll need a stronger suncream. Using little or no suncream is dangerous. Tanning oil is just as bad – I’ve used it before when I was younger but it’s definitely not a healthy way of trying to look a little browner. Find a beach bag big enough to carry your suncream and your other accessories, it will help you always be prepared.
I’m not saying that I don’t sunbathe, hence the above picture of my lumpy bumpy thighs, but when I do I’m extra careful. You should feel happy in your natural skin tone – every skin tone is beautiful because natural is beautiful. A tan may look good but it’s just a sign your skin is trying to protect itself – your health is more important. As long as you remember to seek shade, cover up and use suncream, you’re doing the best you can to protect your skin from any damage and reducing the risk of melanoma. This is the skin you’re living in, look after it.
If you’re interested in the #OwnYourTone campaign or want to further educate yourself on skin cancer and the sun – please visit Cancer Research UK.