The reason I quit sunbathing

21.07.22 |   Bethany Robbins

Bethany loves the outdoors and sport, and like many young women, loved getting a tan. Here she explains how a placement at the Melanoma Fund, completely changed her perception of sun protection, and now wants others now to understand why, and more about the risks of skin cancer.

“I was a complete sun worshipper, taking every opportunity to spend time basking under the UV rays, with either minimal or sometimes no sunscreen on.  If I got a sunburn I regarded it as an inconvenience and a precursor to my ‘healthy looking’ tan.  However this year it has all changed, and thankfully before my holiday to Greece, thanks to the Melanoma Fund, a charity I joined in January on a chance 6-month placement.

I was delighted to land the role of marketing executive, working alongside the charity’s CEO Michelle Baker, who is passionate about the subject. This position required me to really get ‘under the skin’ of sun protection and skin cancer, read the facts, look at the results of too much sun, and research the habits that have made this the most common cancer by far in the world today.  What I learned was astonishing, and life changing.

Yes, that is me dressed as a SUNBURN mascot!

The more I learned, the more I realised that the very habit I was looking to urge people not to do, I was doing, and it just felt wrong. Learning more about sunbathing and sunbeds, I began to view this in a similar way to smoking, eating junk food, and drinking excessively.  It is addictive and so damaging, not only to your health by your looks!  I never realised how the sun aged your skin so accutely, or how sunburn was so closely linked to melanoma.

Being in my early 20s I am beginning to see how it creates fine lines, not welcome at any age.  Any dermatologist will tell you that the most effective anti-ageing product is your SPF, and this is now my beauty weapon. I don’t even miss a tan as my new method is to fake it, not bake it, and why not?

As a result of my six-month role, I now wear SPF30 sunscreen daily, and this to me is as important as wearing a seatbelt in the car, brushing my teeth twice a day, and drinking water; all habits we must do if we want to protect our health and wellbeing.

Not only do I wear sunscreen but through helping to develop the sport-specific guidance for the Melanoma Fund’s Sunguarding Sport campaign, I have picked up a range of other important habits. For example, if it is a sunny day and I am playing sport for a while, I will wear a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeves, something I would never have done before.

Sun protection campaigns

During the summer months, the Melanoma Fund’s resources are highly sought after, with downloadable toolkits for Sunguarding Sport and the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code, and their Slip! Slap! Swing! campaign for golf supported and utilised by a multitude of organisations.

During my time with the charity, I have come to realise that sun protection is not only relevant during the summer months, but all year round. Even those who are typically diligent with sunscreen can be caught out with a burn, often as early as March. I will now wear sunscreen all year round on my face, regardless of the season and ensure the message is passed onto all whom I love.

Three is the magic number

I have also learned about the UV Index, a measurement tool outlining the strength of UV rays. It is this that should influence the decision to wear sunscreen, not a sensory assessment of the weather. Sunscreen should be worn when the UV Index is 3 or higher, and this tool can be found everywhere, either through the internet or even through the ‘Weather’ app on your phone.

I am so glad I had the chance to work at this small, but mighty charity, which is doing so much to help transform behavior around sun protection, specifically in sport. I now consider myself well-equipped to continue to enjoy being out in the sun, but armed with the knowledge that has helped create protective habits that will last my lifetime. And I know my skin will thank me for it!

 

For further information about getting a placement at the Melanoma Fund email info@melanoma-fund.co.uk.  For information regarding our sun protection in sport campaigns, visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk 


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