By GMB Nutritionist, Melissa Fine
Sure a suntan might look good, but the early-onset ageing or ‘prune-y skin’ it may cause in the years to come won’t. On a less superficial level, there’s the risk of skin cancer.
Anyone familiar with the late Emma Betts, the author of Dear Melanoma[^1], will know that all it takes to change your life’s course is one mole.
According to SunSmart[^2], Australia has one of the highest melanoma diagnoses rates in the world, with 2 in 3 Australians being diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they reach 70.
And with solariums now being banned nationally (excluding the Northern Territory), we all now know that there’s no such thing as a healthy tan – be it from the sun or a sunbed.
What’s the deal with UV light?##
Some of us have the misconception that our skin is more likely to get damaged on a sunny, hot day – but it’s actually the ultraviolet radiation, or UV index that’s responsible for harming our skin…which means you can get burnt on a cloudy day. “You can see the sun’s light and feel the sun’s heat but you can’t see or feel UV radiation,” SunSmart says.
So skip the sun or be sun-protection ready when its UV rays are most harmful.
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, sun protection measures are important when there’s a UV index of 3 or more. Check out their daily UV forecast[^3], which informs you on the hours where sun protection is recommended in your area – these can vary to a degree from day to day, but are generally in the middle of the day, between 10am and 4pm says Cancer Council Australia.
If you’re out and about in the day, it can’t hurt to don your sunnies and a broad-rimmed hat, and to slap on some sunscreen - natural if possible.
…And if you like the look of a tan, go fake!
The skin is our largest organ, and it’s absorbent, so what we apply to it should be just as good as the food we put into our bodies.
Here are some of our favourite skin-loving fake tan and sun care products.##
La Mav Gradual Tanning Moisturiser###
100% natural and not tested on animals, this bronzing lotion comes in two shades (Light or Medium) and is also certified organic. Unlike more commercial tanning products, it’s free from parabens – chemical, synthetic preservatives that were commercialised in the 1950s, they haven’t been around for long enough for us to figure out the impact they may have on our health.
We also like that it’s infused with magnesium, which unlike UV rays, can have an anti-aging effect by supporting the production of collagen and elastin; these help to plump up and firm the skin. The gradual tan effect also means that you won’t end up two shades darker than you anticipated.
MooGoo Natural Sunscreen SPF 40###
The zinc oxide in here sits on your skin, reflecting and in turn protecting you from UVA and UVB radiation. Most natural sunscreens are pretty greasy because they typically combine zinc with oils, but not MooGoo. By figuring out how to combine zinc with water, their Natural Sunscreen sinks in nicely like a moisturiser, so you won’t feel oily or sticky. Great for sensitive skin too, bubs’ skin included.
Badger After Sun Balm###
Not that we’re suggesting you go out and bake yourself in the sun, but if the UV rays happen to get the better of you, this certified organic, cruelty-free and GMO-free Badger Balm is a lifesaver. Whether you’ve got red hot sunburn or dry, flaky skin, the gentle, healing and moisturising ingredients in here - like extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil and cocoa butter - work wonders. Smells like a tropical island too.