Skin cancer is on the rise and is the most common of all the cancers combined. So it’s time we start taking protection from the sun seriously and slather on the sunscreen.
Despite the decline in other forms of cancer in Canada, melanoma rates are rising, with 6,800 Canadians estimated to have been diagnosed last year. In fact, skin cancer is now more common than all other cancers combined.
Australia (where melanoma is called the country’s cancer) saw its melanoma rates drop five per cent annually in young people from the mid-’90s to 2010 after a national sun safety campaign. (Here at home, you can log onto the Skinchecker online platform from La Roche-Posay, www.en.laroche-posay.ca/skinchecker, to learn how to spot potentially problematic moles.)
As we age, we need to be vigilant about sunscreen because “our skin has received more sun damage, so we have more mutated cells,” says Dr. Beatrice Wang, assistant professor of dermatology at McGill University. The damage is cumulative. “The hypothesis is one big burn followed by subsequent little burns increase risk,” says Wang.
And wanting a tan because it “looks” healthy or gives you a base to protect from the sun? Sorry, no. “A tan is a sign of damage, not health,” adds Wang. “It’s your body saying ‘My DNA has been damaged, and I’m going to get darker to prevent you burning me anymore.’ ”
If you really want that glow, use a self-tanner (try Institut Esthederm’s Sun Kissed Self-Tanning Face Care, $39, for natural colour, even on pale skin) or mix a drop of highly pigmented Jouviance Custom Couleur Antioxidant Colour Booster, $32, into your sunscreen before applying.
And our final appeal to your vanity: a 2016 study published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery found that daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen can “visibly reverse the signs of existing photodamage, in addition to preventing additional sun damage.” Your skin will thank you.
2. Oil Free
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50. This fragrance-free broad-spectrum screen is non-comedogenic and dries clear so it can go under makeup.
L’Oréal’s Ombrelle Ultra Light Advanced Spray, SPF 60, is alcohol- and fragrance-free, and its easy-to-apply spray lets you protect even the most resistant family members.
Bioderma Photoderm MAX Mineral Compact, SPF 50+. This broad-spectrum screen comes in two shades while its mineral formula won’t irritate sensitive skin.
5. Sensitive Skin
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Stick, SPF 60. Portable and travel-friendly, this creamy, stay-put stick is perfect for lips, nose, eye area and tops of ears.
6. Dark Skin
Avène High Protection, SPF 50, Ultra-light mineral lotion, is so sheer that it doesn’t leave a white cast, even on black skin.