By Marilisa Racco
Despite all the warning against the dangers of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, a “healthy” tan has never lost its appeal. This applies especially to A-listers, partly because of their many vacations in hot climates but also because of the esthetic appeal of a sun-kissed glow. Pippa Middleton’s golden hue certainly stood out against her Alexander McQueen gown on her sister Kate’s wedding day, and the royal bride herself was tanned after her honeymoon in the Seychelles.
Some stars go to the opposite extreme: Australian – born Nicole Kidmantakes pain to shield herself from the sun, while others, like Jessica Alba, fall somewhere in between maintaining a golden glow while being careful not to overdo it. Because there are some consequences. The Canadian Dematology Association listed melanoma as the seventh most frequently diagnosed cancer in Canada, responsible for 920 deaths last year. Although there is a 90% survival rate, prevention is key. Here, Hello! sheds light on the basics of sun survival and how you can keep the rays at bay all year long.
Ultraviolet light is broken down into three categories: A, which emits long-wave radiation that penetrates deep into the skin, causing skin damage such as sunspots and wrinkles; B, Which emits medium-wave radiation and causes sunburns; and C, which is shortwave and doesn’t reach the surface of the Earth.
But make no mistake just because you don’t see the sun doesn’t mean you’re not on the receiving end of its harmful rays, “If you can see light outside you are getting hit by ultraviolet rays.” says Dr. Lisa Kellett at Toronto’s DLK on Avenue clinic. “Even if it’s a cloudy day, light can be reflected and transmitted and your skin will soak it up.” What’s more, she warns, UVA rays can even penetrate glass. She suggests wearing sunscreen all year, even during the winter months when the absence of the UVB means we need to take a daily vitamin D supplement. “There are such things as sunny winter days,” she points out – which means UVA rays are still out in full force.
By the numbers
Sunscreen can seem like a confusing numbers game. In general, dermatologists advise patients to wear a daily SPF 30 or higher. That said, the slew of the new sunscreens on the market that contain SPF as high as 100 are not necessarily better and may give users a false sense of security. “An SPF 30 offers 97 per cent coverage from the sun, while an SPF 45 only bumps up that coverage up to 98 per cent,” saysDr. Lisa Kellett. “From a clinical point of view, SPF 100 is not much more effective.” She suggests sticking to an SPF 30 – which theoretically contains fewer chemicals than SPF 100 – and investing in a good hat, and protective clothing. Even more important is to remember to reapply sunscreen about every 90 minutes especially if you’re out in the sun, swimming or being very active.
Rest assured, even if a bottle says its specially for face or body, the two are interchangeable. If, however you are acne-prone, Dr. Kellett suggests using an alcohol-based spray for your face to avoid clogging pores. While many people opt for an all-natural or organic formulation when it comes to their face, Dr. Kellett advises it’s important to check the label. “Regardless of the brand or its claims, make sure any bottle you pick up has a DIN [drug identification number] on it, which means it has been approved by Health Canada.” Look for ingredients such as avobenzone, Helioplex or micronized zinc because they offer broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. She also advises swapping your regular foundation for mineral makeup, which contains zinc, for extra layer of protection.