Summer is coming! In the Southern Hemisphere, the days are getting longer and warmer, and the collective mood is rising. The last thing we want to do is be a dampener on that mood, but we care about you, so we just want to remind you to look after your skin (every day, but especially during the summer months)!
There is an abundance of natural beauty to be enjoyed in our country, and spending time outdoors is something that we highly recommend. But there’s a way to do it that will have positive impacts on your physical and mental health, and then there’s the approach that could leave you with irreparable skin damage.
Sun exposure leads to the generation of free radicals which can damage your skin’s DNA. When your skin’s DNA is damaged, it can cause your genes to mutate, and gene mutations are the cause of skin cancer.
The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma (this is the most serious type). If you notice any changes in the texture or colour of patches of your skin (e.g. a waxy bump, a red nodule, or a pigmented mole), rather be safe than sorry and have it checked by a dermatologist who will conduct a biopsy to determine your diagnosis. The ABCDE of Melanoma is an easy way to self-check for skin cancer:
A = asymmetry (the spot has two different-looking halves)
B = border (the border of the spot is misshapen)
C = colour (there is a variation in colour across the spot)
D = diameter (melanomas are usually larger than 6mm, but they can be smaller)
E = evolving (the size, shape, or colour of the spot is changing over time)
Skin cancer can usually be treated successfully (through surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy), and the earlier you catch it, the better.
Ideally, though, you will never get to this stage where you require treatment because you will look after your skin. And quite honestly, it’s not a hard thing to do:
Yes, tanned, glowing skin may feel wonderful for a few days, but it’s not worth the long-term damage. 30 minutes before going out into the sun, apply a broad spectrum (this means it will protect you against UVA* and UVB** rays) sunblock that has an SPF of at least 15, and reapply it often.
If you’re thinking, “I’ll just go to a tanning salon to get my glow,” think again! Artificial tanning is no better than sun tanning. So, embrace and love your skin the way it is! You’ll thank yourself later.
*UVA rays have a longer wavelength and damage the deeper layers of your skin.
*UVB rays damage the surface layer of your skin, causing a red burn.
Back2Nature has a range of locally made, natural, sustainable, and vegan-friendly suncare products.
Wear Sun Protective Clothing:
Whenever you are going to be exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time, wear a hat, sunglasses, and clothing with a UFP factor (“this indicates what fraction of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the fabric” e.g. UFP 30 means 1/30th of the UV rays will affect your skin).
Find UPF50+ hats at Sunhats.
Eat a Diet High In Anti-Oxidants:
As well as being good for general health, vitamins C, E, and A, selenium, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids are some of the anti-oxidants that research has shown to potentially have the ability to lessen the harmful impacts of free radicals on our DNA. While this is still up for debate, there is definitely no harm in adding some more carrots and Brazil nuts into your diet!
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide; don’t become a part of that unfortunate statistic.