I recently went on vacation to Saint Lucia, a lovely quaint island in the Caribbean, and this is where I truly discovered the power of sunscreen.

I had never been a fan of sunscreen because I found it very greasy, it gave me spots and it always made me look chalky! And on top of that, I still caught the sun and tanned like crazy, so I thought, what’s the point? I began to buy into the ideas that suggested that sunscreen doesn’t actually work and I rarely ever used it.

But in Saint Lucia, I had to be careful because with the profession I’m in, I have to take care of my skin and if I were to tan too much, none of makeup would match my complexion anymore! So before I left, I set an intention to find a good sunscreen that was inexpensive, effective, and felt light on my skin. And lo and behold that’s exactly what i found at the airport before my flight! And what was it? A mini, roll-on, factor 50, sun block stick for children! That’s as much as i can tell you without giving away the brand! It was absolutely brilliant! I easily applied it all over my body including my face, it didn’t cause me to break out, and it was less than £5.

But the best thing of all was that it significantly cut the amount I tanned, so much so, that when I got back to the UK, I got no comments on my tan. I had to ask people “can’t you see my tan?” And even then there was a close scrutiny of my face followed by an “mmm” and then “maybe…a bit!” I was shocked, because after several days in intensely sunny place and being someone who tans a lot and very quickly, I was expecting quite the opposite! So I can confidently say that sunscreen does indeed work and I was very pleased with my results J

But it wasn’t just about preserving my make up; I really wanted to protect my skin because tanning is an indicator of sun damage. The cells in the skin that give it its colour, called melanocyte cells, get damaged by sun exposure and then release pigmentation called melanin which makes the skin darker. So while the darker skin would protect you more, the fact that it has darkened in the first place is not a positive sign.

Another thing I learned which reinforces my desire to use sunscreen on a more regular basis, even in not-so-sunny England, is that sun exposure is one of the leading causes of aging, leading to premature fine lines and wrinkles. It’s those UVA rays that do it, and you don’t have to be in direct sunlight to be affected. In fact, the UV rays even reach us on cloudy days, making it even more vital that we look after our skin.

Now if that doesn’t inspire you, then perhaps the fear of skin cancer might? I was recently speaking to a friend, whose wife was diagnosed with skin cancer at an early age of 33. She found a large black mole growing on her back, and it became very itchy. Her GP assured her it was nothing to worry about because she is not in a high risk age group for skin cancer, but it became worse and after requesting a referral to a consultant she was diagnosed with Melanoma. She is now cured and is living a healthy life, but it was a scary experience for her and she is now very conscious of protecting herself in the sun by using a quality sunscreen, which she now receives on prescription.

Taking measures now, will help you avoid extreme scenarios like this one, so don’t underestimate the value of sunscreen and protecting your skin in the sun.  You’ll thank yourself for it later.