Coco Chanel is often accredited with making the sun tan popular in the 1920s. Prior to that, having tanned skinned signified that you were a labourer or outdoor worker, thus signifying where you fell into the class system as a result.
And even now, the sun tan is still widely popular, with the development of sun beds, fake tan and our ability to travel to far-off tropical places.
With this lifestyle, however, many of us seem to have forgotten to take care of our skin and protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays, and as a result, the incidence of skin cancer has risen exponentially.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 3.5 million skin cancers in over 2 million people are diagnosed each year in the United States. In fact, each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
These figures are more than worrying, and especially at a time when our advancements and the science behind SPF products is increasing the effectiveness of sun protection products. Yet it seems that we are simply not using sunscreen, but relying more on corrective treatments to ‘solve’ the problem, such as IPL photorejuvenation.
Since I started working in this industry, I have certainly become better informed of both the products I use and how to care for my skin. Years ago, I would never have considered the benefits of using an broad-spectrum sunscreen at SPF 50, but now I use one almost every day.
Rain or shine, I have realised how important my skin is — it is the largest organ of the human body after all!
With this in mind, it is essential that we all spread the word on how vital it is to take care of our skin and why, perhaps, the sun tan should no longer be considered the fashion accessory it has become since Ms Chanel first sported hers.
At the recent AAD Congress in Miami, I was introduced to the Academy’s SPOT Skin Cancer® campaign, which aims to increase public understanding about skin cancer and motivate positive behavioural change to reduce the incidence of and mortality from skin cancer.
This campaign, and others like it, are essential to change attitudes towards the sun. While it adds some benefits to our lives, it is estimated that one American dies of melanoma almost every hour. We need to reverse these statistics by educating our patients on why preventive medicine is better than corrective medicine this type of cancer.