Most of us will remember the seagull telling us to ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’, the ‘No Hat, No Play’ rule at school, and our parents slicking on a thick layer of SPF and slapping on a legionnaire hat (you know the one, it has a flap at the back – what a time to be alive). So, why is it that when we navigate through our teens and into adulthood, we become complacent with sun safety? So much so, that us Aussies are known for our eternally sun-kissed skin.
Cue, Call Time On Melanoma (CTOM) – a sun safety education platform founded by Lisa Patulny, and aimed at giving you the hard facts in little, easy to understand snippets. And while the platform is approachable and bright in personality and branding, the catalyst behind its launch was far more serious.
“In 2018, my friend and colleague Natalie Fornasier, was diagnosed with melanoma for the second time in her life, at age 24. In researching melanoma, I was shocked to learn it is the most common cancer in young Australians. I had never before thought of it as a young person’s issue,” Lisa says. “I wanted to find a way to help Natalie and women like her share their important stories, and to get sun safety information out there in a way that was accessible.”
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Seagulls and sun hats aside, there was an educational gap in the market – one that Lisa was determined to help close. And having since coined the term ‘SPF is my BFF’, she’s done a bloody good job at making sun safety, cool. Just look at the CTOM Instagram and we promise you’ll feel inspired (and maybe a little silly) for not practicing sun safety sooner.
Expect first person stories, sunscreen reviews, the hard facts about melanoma, and debunking of sun safety myths. Two of Lisa’s favourite to shut down being, “That it’s possible to tan safely (it isn’t), and that sunscreen causes skin cancer (it doesn’t).”
However, perhaps more alarming are the statistics that show, in black and white, that we need to hear this message and take action rather than turning a blind eye.
“According to the Cancer Council, people aged 25 to 44 (43% of the population) are the most likely to get sunburnt outside at peak times. They’re also the least concerned about skin cancer as a community issue,” Lisa says. “So, we’re still a way away from country-wide sun safety compliance. It’s only been in the last two years I’ve seen influencers and brands start to embrace it.”
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- So, with this in mind, where do we start? Lisa shares her non-negotiables:
- Stash a bottle of sunscreen, sunglasses, and a bucket hat in your handbag or glove box so you’re never caught out.
- Learn how to reapply sunscreen over your makeup – there are plenty of helpful tutorials on Youtube.
- Apply SPF to your body and wait for five minutes before you get dressed. You’ll get better coverage and avoid staining your clothes.
- Be diligent with your skin cancer checks. We live in Australia, it just needs to be part of your routine. End of story.
And when it comes to wearing sunscreen there really are no excuses nowadays, with reformulations leaning into the ‘sun serum’ category. Lisa’s favourites? Ultra Violette Lean Screen SPF50, Dermalogica Pure Light SPF50, Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face SPF50+ Superscreen, and La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid SPF50+.
“Truly, there are so many great sunscreens out there. This is by no means an exhaustive list!” Lisa says. “If you think you hate sunscreen, I promise you there’s an SPF BFF for you.”