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Skin Cancer Action Week

Posted on 20 November 2016

Each year Cancer Council Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists come together for National Skin Cancer Action Week. Today marks the first day of Skin Cancer Action week, which runs from 20-26 November.
The official theme of National Skin Cancer Action Week 2016 is "My #SunSmart5" and focuses on reminding Australians to use five forms of sun protection to help reduce their skin cancer risk: 

2. slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen;
3. slap on a broad-brimmed hat;
4. seek shade; and
5. slide on sunglasses.
A combination of these measures, along with getting to know your skin and regularly checking so you can pick up on any changes, are the key to reducing your skin cancer risk.

As Honeybell Waterwear expands, so does my opportunity to speak with and connect with Australian women about the importance of enjoying the sun safely. Time and time again the women I speak to are surprised to learn about the scary skin cancer statistics. So this year, my focus is on raising awareness. And, with temperatures already on the rise, here are my top 4 tips to defend yourself against the dangers of sun exposure.


Tip 1: Make sun protection a daily habit

Everyone, especially people with fair skin types, is familiar with the burn from UVB rays. But did you know that 95% of UV rays are UVA rays? And these UVA rays are with us all the time, every day, regardless of the season, and hour of daylight, or weather forecast. UVA rays are responsible for premature skin ageing, such as pigmentation, wrinkles, reduced skin elasticity, dark spots, skin yellowing and skin cancer. They penetrate deep into our skin, not just superficial layers, and through most clothing, cloud cover and glass. The damaged caused by UVA rays is irreversible.
For this reason, protecting yourself against sun exposure is something that you need to do every day – not just days spent poolside or on the beach. And with summer approaching, the best time to start making sun protection a daily habit is now!

Tip 2: Cotton Doesn’t Cut It

The Cancer Council’s #SunSmart5 message is NOT being fulfilled by slipping on clothing of just any description. Yes, we all love our t-shirts, flowy kaftans and oh-so-versatile sarongs. But, did you know, that the average white cotton t-shirt only has a UPF 5 (which is like SPF for clothes)? This means that it allows 1/5th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through.  And remember UV rays are not blocked by cloud coverage or glass.
If you are going to be outside for an extended period this summer, you need to be wearing clothing that has been specifically designed to protect you from the sun. Cotton doesn’t cut it, look for clothing labelled as providing certified UPF 50+ protection, the highest possible rating.

Tip 3: Be generous with your sunscreen

Despite the fact that women know they should wear sunscreen every day of the year, less than 30% of us do on a regular basis. I hear many excuses for this – from ‘it’s too greasy’ to ‘I’m too busy’. But, given the importance of sun protection, I hope you’ll get in the habit of applying sunscreen daily, especially during these warmer months.
Remember, UVA rays are with us all the time, every day. Be generous with your sunscreen, most people do not use enough, apply it before you go outside and reapply it at least every 2 hours. 

Tip 4: For every head, a hat

Yes, you need your hat to be breathable, lightweight and comfortable – but it also needs to be constructed in fabric that offers protection.  I see women wearing their big floppy straw hats, and yes, they look good and provide shade, but if you can see through the weave, then those UV rays can see you too!
Like sun protection clothing, look for hats that are labelled as providing protection from UV exposure.

Don’t be a statistic

With so many great reasons to protect yourself from sun exposure and so much public education focused on skin protection, it’s hard to believe that we Aussies are not already world class superstars at sun safety. I implore you, please don’t be a statistic, learn more about sun protection, and enjoy the sun safely this summer.

With love,
Annaliese Allen

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