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Catching rays: the dangers of a sun tan

May 8th 2013 / Anna Hunter


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Anna Hunter reports on Sun Awareness Week and why there's just no need to bake when you can fake it instead

After a sun soaked Bank Holiday weekend, Sun Awareness Week couldn’t have come at a better time. A mere break in cloud is usually enough to impel us Brits to pour a Pimms and expose our pasty limbs, and whether due to the amnesiac effects of alcohol or the desire to get started on a respectable ‘base tan’, few of us prioritise slapping on the sunscreen.

Cancer Research UK has reported a dip in the usage of sun protection, while worryingly malignant melanoma is on the rise. Research carried out by St Tropez confirms our lackadaisical national attitude to sun lotion, as the brand found that ‘a staggering one in three Brits don’t wear any sun protection when on home soil because they don’t believe they’re at risk of sun damage’.

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Unfortunately, skin cancer isn’t geographically selective; it can strike whether you’re tanning in Turkey or sunbathing in Skegness, and you don’t have to bake in the midday rays to get it. It can catch you unawares as you go about your daily business, which is why this week’s Sun Awareness campaign (6th May- 12th May) is so vitally important.

Statistics released by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) to mark the week of awareness make for uneasy reading. 22% of women incorrectly believe that a base tan protects against sunburn and sun damage, whilst 34% of people in the UK state that sunbathing is their preferred tanning option, a statistic that increases to 54% when we sojourn abroad. Furthermore, 80% of people infrequently or never check their skin for signs of cancer, despite it being the UK’s most common type of cancer. If we were to check our skin, the association has revealed that 69% of us don’t know what to look for.

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BAD hopes to turn these figures around by raising awareness both during the week ahead and over the course of the summer at the Be Sun Aware Roadshow supported by GTG favourite La Roche-Posay. With only 38% of us knowing that it is SPF that predominantly protects against sunburn, and only 39% aware that it is a product’s UVA protection, rather than SPF, that protects against skin ageing, both BAD and La Roche-Posay have teamed up to set the record straight as regards sun damage and skin cancer prevention.

Education and early detection is key to saving lives, as most cases of malignant melanoma can be cured if identified at an early stage. For advice on checking skin and moles, as well as sun protection advice and roadshow information, see www.besunaware.com/on-the-road.

Now for the good news; it’s never been easier to achieve a flattering golden glow without putting yourself in danger. Get The Gloss and St Tropez expert Nichola Joss agrees:

“The advances in modern skincare technology mean there is no reason to damage our skin in search of a tan.”

The Get The Gloss gang are the first to grab superior glow-givers when the sun comes out, teaming natural-looking face and body bronzers with high protection sunscreen. A belts and braces approach ensures that you’ll be looking radiant now and for years to come, without upping your chances of sun damage or skin cancer.

Protecting, beautifying and bronzing multi-taskers we love:

For face:

St Tropez SPF 30 Face with Tan Enhancer, £15

Stila Stay All Day 10-in-1 HD Bronzing Beauty Balm SPF 30, £26. Keep your eye out for this miracle balm - it launches during May.

Omorovicza Sunkiss Tan Booster SPF 15, £74


For body:

Nivea Protect & Bronze, £14.99

Dior Bronze Beautifying Protective Suncare, £25

Guerlain Terracotta Sun Protection Cream, £30


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