More than 2000 people in Australia die from skin cancer each year, and Cancer Council estimates that Australia spends more than $1 billion per year treating skin cancer, with costs increasing substantially over the past few years.
However, most skin cancers can be prevented with the use of good sun protection. That’s why during National Skin Cancer Action Week (15th -21st Nov), all Aussies are urged to use the five forms of sun protection. These are to:
- slip on sun-protective clothing
- slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
- slap on a broad-brimmed hat
- seek shade
- slide on sunglasses.
Prevention initiatives such as SunSmart promote awareness by advocating effective sun protective methods, sun risk awareness and are an integral part of skin cancer prevention. A combination of the five measures, along with getting to know your skin and regularly checking for any changes, are key.
Awareness and early detection are the most efficient tools for avoiding skin cancer and are the basis of many effective prevention campaigns in Australia. If you are concerned with any changes to your skin, make an appointment with a dermatologist and seek an expert analysis and solution as soon as possible.
We need to understand that sunburn is the result of damage to the skin. One of the greatest risk factors for skin cancer is excessive exposure to UV and it is largely preventable by adequately protecting yourself from the sun.
Overexposure to UV is the main cause of skin cancer. The skin can be damaged in as little as 15 minutes on a fine January day. The sun protection times can tell you whenever UV levels are forecast to be 3 or higher. This makes it easier to know when you do and don’t need sun protection. These times are forecast each day by the Bureau of Meteorology.
You can find the sun protection times for your location on the free Sun Smart App.
Sunscreen is one of the two most common sun protection measures used. However, sunscreen is not a suit of armour and needs to be used alongside broad-brimmed hats, shade, sunglasses, and clothing, as well as applied correctly.
Many youngsters (especially teens) wear caps, rather than broad-brimmed hats, leaving their neck and ears exposed.
Tips to pick the correct sunscreen for your skin type and activities
Every person’s skin has a certain tolerance for sun, and most people believe SPF (Sun Protection Factor) multiplies that tolerance. Wrong! Many people make the mistake of thinking that a higher SPF allows them to stay out in the sun longer. It’s vitally important to note that SPF only applies to UVB rays, the burning rays of the sun. All the invisible damage from UVA and UVC rays may still be coming through your SPF. To make sure you’re fully protected, look for the term “broad spectrum” on the package.
Here are some variations in your sunscreen selection you may want to consider:
- a water-resistant and rub-resistant sunscreen product that stays put:
- when you are wet or sweaty
- on skin rubbed by clothing
- on skin that you wash repeatedly (like the back of your hands)
- a sunscreen product that enhances the look and feel of your complexion and that you love to use every day
- oily complexions prefer oil-free and even matte sunscreen bases
- dry complexions prefer a more hydrating base
- hairy skin does best with a thin product capable of rubbing in easily around the hairs
Are Zinc Oxide Sunscreens Better?
Well many dermatologists will agree, but of course zinc oxide while easy to apply to your face, is a little harder to apply to a full body. Hence the introduction of the more free-flowing SPF lotions available. However, for little ones it can be easier, so here are a few facts for you to consider:
- Zinc oxide particles in sunscreen sit invisibly on the surface of your skin bouncing the UV rays off like balls bouncing off a hard surface. There is no chemical reaction at your skin level as there is with chemical sunscreens.
- Zinc oxide gives you broad spectrum protection from UVB all the way through to UV-A1, meaning your skin is getting the best sun protection possible.
- Zinc oxide is a stable sunscreen ingredient that is much less likely than chemical ingredients to break down in the bottle or on your skin.
- Zinc oxide gives broader UV protection than titanium dioxide and is cosmetically more elegant to use (aka invisible on your skin)
- Zinc oxide does not irritate sensitive skin.
- Zinc oxide is not absorbed into your body; it stays on your skin where you put it and where it can protect you from the sun.
If you have chosen the Zinc path for your sun protection you can purchase a tube of Winki Zinc from Arlix + Hufie. This Zinc is long lasting, broad spectrum SPF 30, is set in all natural oils and butters and its tube is eco-friendly.
Whatever decision you make regarding sunscreen this summer (and all year round) – please stay sun safe!
This blog was written by Pamela South, Founder of Balance of Life. She is a trained Reiki and Reflexology Practitioner.