Summer was both a magical and stressful time for me growing up. I loved the beach, swimming and basically any activity that made me feel closer to being Ariel in The Little Mermaid. However, I have a hefty amount of Irish ancestry and thus, have a skin tone best resembling a piece of A4 printer paper.
So to be allowed to go outside in summer, my poor paranoid mother would slather me in so much sunscreen and clothing I couldn’t get sunburnt if I physically tried. I actually didn’t get any sunburn until I was at a swimming carnival in Year Three without Mum’s supervision and didn’t put on sunscreen ALL DAY. I was in so much pain I couldn’t move and I think Mum nearly had a heart attack when she saw me come home from school that day…
So if you want to avoid the sun damage that comes with hand-in-hand with awful, non-melanin producing DNA like mine, here is a small, but helpful list of ways to keep sun safe during this most hazardous time of year.
- SUNSCREEN!!!Always choose at least an SPF of 30+ but for all us extra pale folk, go for a 50+ and choose one that actually does what it says it will! Of six popular 50+ sunscreen’s tested it was found that only two matched the claim of actually being 50+, those being Cancer Council Classic 50+ (obviously) and Nivea Sun Kids SPF50+. Banana Boat varieties come in with a very high SPF also, but aren’t quite 50+ as claimed. To get the most out of your sunscreen apply about 20-30 minutes before going in the sun and use one that is suited to your level of activity (sport, swim etc).
2. Cover yourself!
Wearing a hat is obviously an excellent idea to protect your face and neck from the sun, but there comes a time when we have to be mature adults and remember what our mums tell us every time we go to the beach: “If you don’t wear your rashie, you can’t come.” Or was that just my mum?
But honestly, while they are largely hideous and uncomfortable, they play a super important part in keeping us safe from the sun. The parts on my body that were covered by a rashie during the summer months of my childhood are in much better shape than the rest of me. Way less freckles, no pigmentation, no nasty moles to get checked out by a doctor every few years… A lot of them also have snazzy zips now too so you don’t feel like you’re being strangled by lycra! Side note: make sure your rashie has SPF or you’ll get sunburn through the fabric which just looks patchy, like you’ve got meningococcal. Fun times!
3. Be a hermit!
Although definitely the less fun option (unless you hate people and the outdoors, who am I to judge?) you will avoid sunlight and the potential to burn and damage yourself. This is definitely an option if you find summer too stressful to deal with. On the bright side, you can always catch up on heaps of Netflix.
4. I don’t know, just move to England… no sunshine, no problem!
In all seriousness, we don’t take care of our skin anywhere as much as we should. We should be wearing more sunscreen, and taking the very real risk of skin cancer seriously. As lucky as we are to live in a country like Australia where we have abundant sunshine, we have a pretty big hole in the ozone layer above us and some very strong UV rays beaming down on our little heads on a regular basis. So check out the Cancer Council website, be informed and take your skin health seriously.
And most importantly, remember to SLIP, SLOP, SLAP!