The West

Safe in the sun
Safe in the sun

We may live in a sunburnt country - we just don't want to be sunburnt.

While most Australians know the importance of being sun smart, sometimes we could do better.

These three experts offer their sun-smart skincare tips.

Nicole Forde, make-up artist:
"There are so many cosmetics on the market now with added SPF - there are primers, tinted moisturisers, foundations, mineral powders, lip balms - which all help protect the skin from burning," Ms Forde said.

"But it's incorrect to think you are increasing your sun factor by layering products containing sunscreen; whichever product has the highest factor is the amount of total protection you get.

"I don't rely solely on cosmetics for sun protection and include a sunscreen with SPF 30+ to my daily routine. Apply it generously and let it absorb into the skin before applying your cosmetics."

  • Amanda Guile, beauty therapist and spa manager at Cove Spa, South Perth *

"Don't lie in the sun for a tan. Be sun safe and opt for a spray-on tan to look beautifully sun-kissed and brown without the sun damage," she says.

Ms Guile recommends wearing an SPF 15 lip balm over your lipstick for added protection.

Kurt Gebauer, Dermatologist at Fremantle Dermatology:
"Always wear a broad brimmed hat whenever outdoors and clothing that's appropriate to our climate - long sleeves and long trousers," Dr Gebauer said.

"Try not to do activities which involve a significant period of time outdoors in summer between 9am and 3pm. And always use a broad spectrum sunblock which should be at least factor SPF 30, including when spending a lot of time in the car."

Undress completely in an area with good light. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and use a hand-held mirror to view your entire body.

If there are areas you can't see properly, don't ignore them. Ask your GP for a skin check.

Remember that skin cancers can occur in parts of the body not exposed to the sun, for example the soles of the feet.

Be alert to the ABCD of melanoma:

Asymmetry: If one-half of a spot or lesion does not match its other half.

Border: A spot with irregular, ragged or blurred edges.

Colour: The colour of a mole or mark is not the same all over, but made up of differing shades of brown, black, red, white or blue.

Diameter: A spot that is growing and changing in diameter

Check your body in this sequence so that it becomes routine:

Head, scalp, neck and ears - pay extra attention to the skin around the nose, lips, ears and scalp. Move to the front, back and sides of your torso. Check your arms, hands, fingers and nails. Then carefully inspect the spaces between the fingers and the beds of your fingernails as dark areas can indicate melanoma. View your buttocks, legs and feet. Look between toes, under toenails and on the soles of your feet.

If you find anything suspicious, show it to your doctor immediately.

Source: Mark Strickland, SunSmart Co-ordinator at Cancer Council Western Australia.

While melonoma is rare in small children, it's important to be vigilant.

"Children's skin is very sensitive and should be well protected when outdoors," The Cancer Council WA's Mark Strickland said. "People should become familiar with their children's skin so that they are able to notice any changes. Parents should also learn to use the UV index to know when sun protection is required."

When 23-year-old Cat Charnley found a lump on her scalp, her doctor initially dismissed her concerns. An aunt who worked in radiology insisted she get a second opinion. The lump turned out to be advanced melanoma and it had already spread to her liver.

"It was all very surreal: I never thought I could get skin cancer so young. I enjoyed the sun and didn't consider it a serious enough risk," Ms Charnley said.

"I grew up on farms and played outdoor hockey. When I was in high school I'd often get sunburnt."

Ms Charnley's treatment has involved chemotherapy, immunotherapy, a liver resection and radiation therapy. Unfortunately none has been successful to date.

"There's talk of more chemo but we're yet to book anything," Ms Charnley said. "I'm focusing on getting fit so my body can try to fight.

"The sun is a factor of Australian life but you need to make the effort to control how much it will affect your life. Enjoy it but don't get lazy or reckless and certainly don't give in to tanning trends. It's not worth sacrificing your chance to grow old with loved ones."

For more information about skin cancer visit MelanomaWA at melanomawa. or The Cancer Council WA at

The West Australian

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