Ask anyone from outside Australia what they think of when they picture a ‘typical Aussise’ and they will describe a person living on beautiful white sandy beach, a big smile on their face and of course an absolutely amazing flawless tan. For many Australians the latter is the case, however at what cost does the tan come with? Can you enjoying wearing a hot bikini and sunbathe safely?
Many Australians feel that because they grow up in the sun they don’t need sunscreen. With the sunshine brings an outdoor lifestyle but not many of us could pull of a swim burka like Nigella Lawson! Sun proof swimwear is available to protect against UV rays, but is this enough?
Admittedly the Cancer Council’s campaign ‘Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap’ sounds more like an STD deterrent however, the message they are trying to head home is that the sun can be dangerous. Lethal in fact; they state that ‘At current rates it is expected 1 in 2 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.’
The sunshine is like any vice; you know it’s bad for you, you know the long term effects but it just feels so good at the time! We all know the ‘stay out of the midday sun’ rule which, annoyingly extends until 3pm on many sunscreen bottles! But it’s hot and you want to be in the sea and enjoying the feel of the sun on your skin. However, you don’t want to feel your skin cooking.
Here are some easy, realistic tips to protecting your skin:
Invest in waterproof sunscreen; the thicker the better. Urban myth has it that sunscreen stops you tanning. It does not. That was something Mum was told when she used to sit with a mirror and cake herself in baby oil. Then as time went on the damaging long term side effects began to show.
Sunscreen will stop you burning, ageing and you still get brown. I promise! I wore factor 50 (I hear you all gasp, do they even make it that high?!) in Asia for a month and was one of the brownest I have ever been. AND it lasted for ages.
2. Got it covered
The best tip is to put your sunscreen on when you’re naked. This way you leave less to chance and cover as much as possible. And preferably half an hour before you hit the sun. The shade is not your enemy so you can always chill out under an umbrella whilst it sinks in. You can then put on your smallest string bikini safe in the knowledge you haven’t missed a bit.
What about my back? I hear you cry! I have only one friend (she is blessed with extremely long limbs) who can comfortably reach and cream the whole of her back. I have witnessed this. However, as I learnt on a holiday to Bali, I am incapable and there is a small patch in the middle of my back that I just simply cannot. I therefore went on to use a paint roller. Glamorous I know, but it worked. Failing that you can always play the damsel in distress part to the attractive lifeguard. Whatever way you do it, get it covered.
You can minimise tan-lines in general by swapping your style of bikini regularly; a bandeau style strapless top, followed by a triangle bikini, followed by a low-cut balconette style, and so on
I cannot stress this enough. I know not everyone will do it every time they get out of the water. But every so often you have to reapply. Think of it like make up. You probably reapply that at once during a working day to cover up blemishes etc. Think of sunscreen as covering up potential blemishes. You can always opt for a one piece swimwear to stay more protected, especially if you have fair skin.
Let’s face it who actually likes burning?! That feeling of your skin being so tight it might rip and having to put aloe vera on that only provides light relief for a matter of seconds before you feel like you are exuding the very rays that you’ve been lapping up all day. And peeling is not attractive. Ever.
4. They say it changes when the sun goes down
You skin regime that is. The best thing you can do is to carry on looking after your skin, long after you’ve watched the sun set and rinsed out your swimsuit. After being in the sun all day your skin is tired, dry and taught. You need to apply an after sun or a moisturiser.
Even when you aren’t on holiday or having a weekend at the beach, it’s important that you use an SPF in your daily face cream. You can even buy foundation with it in so there is no excuse. As I’ve got older and realised that I don’t want a Botox-filled frozen face and so tend to protect my face entirely from the sun with a hat and just apply more bronzer.
So don’t be one of the ‘1 in 2.’
Remember: The shade is not your enemy and ‘pale and interesting’ is a well-known saying for a reason.