Growing up at the beach, I’ve had my fair share of sunburns. The worst of which was probably two Christmas’s ago, when after spending a day walking around wearing a racerback singlet in the January sun I found myself with blistering shoulders. To top it off I had a sleepover planned for that night. Four girls talking all night in a double bed with a back so sore you can’t lie on it is not fun. My dad’s side of the family has super dooper fair skin (which luckily my brother inherited more than me, but I still have it) and both sides of the family regularly get skin cancers burnt off. I’ve always been carefree with my skincare, every now and again thinking about protection and covering up, but not often. The most I’ve thought about it before now was probably after seeing these two ads in magazines and being scared half to death:
At the start of the year I started a new acne medication and one of the side effects is increased sensitivity to sun. That means that sitting on the oval for twenty minutes at lunch time is enough to leave me sunburnt. Mum and Dad went to a skin cancer specialist in the holidays, and they got told that some crazily high percentage of skin damage is done before you’re fifteen, and pretty much all of it is done before you’re eighteen. The combination of those two things was enough to make me think ‘Hold on, I’m almost fifteen, I have had a history of sunburn, I have lots of moles and I’m on a dangerous to the skin medication, I should really pay attention to sun protection…’ And from today onwards I am. I know I can’t reverse the damage I’ve already done, but I can prevent more from happening. I don’t care if I don’t have a ‘natural’ tan now (not that I ever did) if it means cancer in ten years. I don’t care if I look like a loser putting on sunscreen at lunch if it means staying out of the operating theatre. And at the beach next holidays? Not only will I be the coolest kid on the beach in a rashie, but I will also slather on sunscreen and sit waaaaay in the shade when I’m not in the water. Plus wearing protective clothing, proper hats and sunscreen, I should be set to prevent any further damage. I’m not going to stop when the weather gets cooler either; just because you may not be able to see the sun/it’s not hot, doesn’t mean harmful UVA and UVB rays are attacking your skin.
You won’t leave a gap if you slip, slop slap!