How did you become so passionate about sun safety and skin surveillance?
“When I was younger, I used sunbeds on probably a daily basis for around seven years which was because I was suffering with severe acne, so I was trying to cover it up. The education around tanning and sunbed use was just not there at that time.
As soon as I started working in the beauty industry I started to wear factor 50 every day but the damage was done. It took 25 years to come out but one day I noticed a lump that wasn’t a spot and, after a biopsy, it turned out to be a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – an aggressive form of skin cancer that can be really dangerous if undetected. The worst part is that it’s preventable. I’m scarred for life now, all because of being a sun worshipper.”
What can the industry do to raise awareness around sun safety?
“Stories are so powerful when shared, so if any of your colleagues or clients have suffered from skin cancer then ask them to share their stories.
“A friend of a friend saw my story in the national press. The pictures were not flattering but it got them to change their habits. I thought if I can get one person to start using SPF or stop sun worshipping then I’ve done my part.
“Also, as beauty therapists, it’s important to get the right training in skin surveillance and to do a thorough consultation of your clients’ skin then continue to monitor it throughout their journey.”
What is Élan Laser Clinics’ approach to sun safety?
“We make sure our professionals are well-equipped to spot any potential issues early on by putting them through melanoma and skin cancer early detection (MASCED) training and skin cancer awareness training provided by the Karen Clifford Skin Cancer Charity.
“The charity uses the funds from the training it provides to further develop educational and intervention programmes and resources to aid in the prevention and early detection of skin cancer on a national scale. Its a win-win because we are educating our staff and supporting the charity at the same time.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
“I would tell myself there is no such thing as perfection and to love the skin I’m in. A tan is just not important but we’re all affected by the pressure of what beautiful is.
“I would tell myself to use fake tan instead. I think it looks better anyway – it’s glowy and less blotchy and causes less damage to the skin. I’m now trying to reverse the damage and signs of ageing that sun worshipping has caused – just get it out of a bottle!”
What are three products you couldn’t live without?
“My favourite SPF is Heliocare Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50. It’s so lightweight it’s literally like water and is a great base for make-up.
“Vitamin C is another thing I couldn’t live without and there are two products that I can’t choose between – Obagi Professional-C Serum and C EFerulic by Skinceuticals.
“Lastly is Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum. It’s really good for sensitive skin, so you don’t have to be too fearful about getting close to the eye.”