I don’t work with brands that I don’t use personally and love completely.
Plus… anyone who has met me knows that I am a sunscreen pusher! Are you wearing sunscreen? Here, use some of mine.
You only have to look at me to realise that I am no sun-worshipper; a few steps out of the shade in the height of summer and I burst into flames like a cartoon vampire! That’s an exaggeration of course but I really am one of those people who burns but does not tan.
I can remember every sunburn I have ever had from the first time at around 7 or 8 on holiday, carefully peeling my purple gypsy top away from my red skin after a day on a Cornish beach, to the Shakespeare in the park in Cambridge which made my flatmate laugh as I peeled off a black t-shirt to reveal what looked like a white one underneath. From the bateau bus in Paris which turned me rouge the holiday on which my Husband proposed, to the last time it was really bad on a windy day on which only one side of me burned. That last one was so bad that I had to take painkillers for the pain of the burn down my left arm and neck.
Every time I have burned in the sun, I have vowed never to allow it to happen again. Like a repentant partygoer with a hangover, I have held my fist aloft and called out “as God is my witness,” and promised to carry sunscreen with me always.
That last time I burned was a direct result of crap sunscreen; it was the first ‘outside’ day of the year and I dutifully pulled last summer’s SPF 50 from my bathroom cabinet and began working the thick Tippex-like gunk into my skin. It was horrendous. It smelled horrid. I covered my face and chest and stopped short of my arms and neck. You know what happened next.
I learned very early that I need to protect my skin from the sun, so have always covered up at the beach (much to my family’s amusement) with a light, long, and loose dress, sunhat, beach umbrella, nuclear bunker dug into the sand. OK, that last one is another exaggeration but all else is true. My Mother laughs that I could make the most modest version of Baywatch and there are photos of me running along the beach looking like a crazy person.
The times that I have burned in my life have been the moments in which I have not expected to burn and have let my guard down – open air theatre, boat rides, vintage fayres – and this is why I am taking the SunSense Pledge to wear sunscreen every day.
If I am totally honest with you, I have cheated somewhat in this pledge as I have been wearing sunscreen every day for nearly two years now. I have made applying sunscreen a part of my routine; I wash, I moisturise, I apply sunscreen. There is more that comes after that including hair and make-up as well as some fairly complex vintage style underwear that needs getting into which is why it takes me two clear hours to get ready to leave the house!
I started wearing sunscreen every day in part because I have been suffering with rosacea for four years now and heard that the sun can be a trigger in flare-ups – it couldn’t hurt to try sunscreen – and also because I found a product that I didn’t mind wearing every day.
My Dad introduced me to SunSense as a fellow pale person and the grateful recipient of two new kidneys in 2012. Because transplant patients are vulnerable to skin cancer due to the anti-rejection medication they need to take, they are prescribed high factor sunscreen on the NHS. The brand that Dad’s pharmacy dispensed was SunSense and I was offered a truly enormous bottle that was surplus to requirement. You will understand my hesitance to accept prescription sunscreen – I thought that it would be the worst kind of thick, medical smelling, awfulness.
I could not have been more wrong. Having accepted the need to smother myself in white emulsion or burn, I was not expecting what I got. The sunscreen absorbed into my skin immediately, leaving no smell behind.
And I didn’t burn. I really didn’t burn.
During the height of the heatwave in 2018, I went for an alfresco lunch with my Mum. All the while I was thinking “I should really be inside,” as I chased the shade in my sunhat. Nothing. No burn. I didn’t even catch the sun.
Working at Foodies Festival all summer, I see lots of ‘lobster people’ wandering around. They have been having a lovely day of eating and drinking and hanging out with their friends, not thinking about the damage that the sun is doing to them. At the very least, they are going to regret it in the morning.
Having now met the team at SunSense UK and learned more about sun damage, melanoma, and skin cancer, I am fairly evangelical about sun protection. More people are dying of melanoma skin cancer each year in Britain than in Australia! Why is this? It has to be put down to attitude and routine – the Australians know that the sun is going to be out, that it is going to be strong, and that they need to protect themselves. We need to get ourselves to accept the same truths and get into the same routine of wearing sunscreen every day. 86% of skin cancer cases in the UK are entirely preventable with high SPF sun protection. We need to acknowledge the part that we can play in helping to prevent this cancer. If you are interested in exploring the numbers, please click here to visit the Cancer Research website.
Yes, even when it is not sunny. Even when it is downright gloomy looking! You may not be able to see the sun but, honey, it is there. It is going to catch you out in that cheeky drink in the pub garden after work, while you are driving home, when you are walking about in your lunchbreak. It’s time to take the SunSense Pledge and promise to wear sunscreen every day. A proper high SPF sunscreen, Factor 50 or above.
You will forget some days, so don’t forget to carry a travel-sized bottle in your handbag or in your car. If you forget to do that, just ask me. You can borrow mine.
I spoke to SunSense about my experience with tanning (or trying to tan!), high SPF sunscreen, and living with Rosacea.
Take the SunSense Pledge today and you could win a £75 bundle of lovely products! https://www.sunsense.co.uk/support-our-sunscreen-pledge/