Let the sun in safely

Celebrities and sportspeople spend hours in the sun at glamorous shoots and gruelling games. But they also spend years in the spotlight where they have to look their best. That’s why, like all of us, they need a sun-safe plan. Cape Town dermatologist Dr Mohamed Docrat puts three local stars through their paces.
By SYLVIE HURFORD for YOU Pulse magazine

Model and pro surfer

Sun strategy: My moisturiser has an SPF 15 and so does my foundation. When I’m on the beach I use a factor 30 sunscreen on my face. While surfing, my body is usually covered in a wetsuit but when I surf warmer spots I often don’t use sunblock because it makes me slip on my surfboard.

Survival tips: I wear a hat, rehydrate with water and use an Elizabeth Arden SPF 15 lip balm that doesn’t rinse off and works wonders. To protect my hair and skin I use good old conditioner mixed with sunblock and lots of sunscreen, of course.

Skin sense: My dad is a surfer too and he raced rubber ducks when I was growing up. Most of my time was spent roasting on the beach – even though my mom practically drenched me in sunscreen from when I was a baby.

But there’s been a huge movement towards greater sun awareness in my family and although I’ve never had a scan or mole map, I’ve been using sunscreen a lot more lately because of all the media scares.

Dr Docrat says: While Roxy is aware, she falls terribly short by not using sunblock when she’s surfing without a wetsuit. Spray-on sunscreens work very well and will stop her from slipping on her board.

Also, mixing sunblock with conditioner will affect its efficacy and render it useless. Roxy’s daily sun protection should be upped to an SPF 30 and she needs to be much more aware of physical protection such as sunglasses and cover ups. “Roasting” on the beach as a child lowers her score significantly.

Roxy’s sun-safe score: 5/10

SA cricketer

Sun strategy: I use a moisturiser with a SPF of 15 every day – usually one by Nivea or The Body Shop. But when I’m on the cricket field, I go for Johnson & Johnson for Babies SPF 40 on my face and neck and an SPF 30 spray on my arms.

I usually forget about the days when I’m out in the sun for recreational reasons – but I still wear the SPF 15 on my face.

Survival tips: I wear a floppy hat and a long-sleeved shirt when fishing.

Skin sense: I only started using sun protection when I started spending more time on the cricket field.

Before that I didn’t really know about the damage but now that I’m more exposed to the sun, I’ve become aware of what can happen.

Dr Docrat says: Dale doesn’t meet many sun-safety requirements. Given that he can spend up to 10 hours on the field at a time and as a bowler has to remove his hat and sunglasses, he’s at very high risk.

Once again a minimum of factor 30 must be used and reapplied regularly – especially when playing sport. Dale also needs to remember that recreational activities in the sun need to be given the same importance as time on the field.

In addition to bumping up his sun-safe regime, it’s essential that he protect his lips and eyes with SPF balms and sunglasses.

Dale’s sun-safe score: 6/10

Model and first winner of Survivor SA

Sun strategy: In winter I’m a bit of a sun-seeker but in summer I avoid the sun or shelter under a beach umbrella. I must confess I don’t use sunscreen on my body unless I’m spending an extended period in the sun.

But my face is a different story – my moisturiser contains an SPF 15 and I carry a can of spray-on SPF 30 for unexpected sunny moments. I’m very into gardening and am shiny as a button with the amount of sunscreen I slap on.

Survival tips: During Survivor, we had to be in the sun for the challenges – and some of them took hours. That was rough but it was Survivor after all. I did wear a cap throughout the month, although covering my body was out of the question – it was memorably hot.

Skin sense: My mom is a big sunscreen fan – even if I was going out for a few minutes she’d always ask, “Have you put on your sunscreen?” When I was growing up, I remember friends lying in the sun for ages to work on their tans.

Now we’re a lot more cautious. In my family, we also have a lot of hereditary moles. I have a few tiny ones on my face, but I’ve never been for a mole map. I’ve never had a scare, but I think I’ll go for a check-up soon.

Dr Docrat says: Vanessa is the most sun-savvy of our three celebs. But she needs to take note that applying sunblock in an “emergency” is not good enough.

It needs to go on 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Also, a factor 30 is the minimum required, so a factor 15 moisturiser is not ideal. Her winter “sun seeking” has a slightly negative connotation, however, we live in a beautiful sunny country which we must enjoy safely.

Vanessa’s sun-safe score: 7/10

[This is an extract of an article that originally appeared in the Summer 2008/2009 edition of YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS magazine. The current edition is on sale now.]

Read more:

The sun and your skin

Teach your kids about the sun

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