The theme for Men's Health Week this year is “Healthy Habits”, where we’ll all be focusing on encouraging men and boys to identify small changes they can make in their daily lives to build healthier habits. When we heard the news that twice as many men to women will die this year from Melanoma, we wondered if a small habit like wearing sunscreen everyday could help make a difference.
Recent research from Cancer Council shows that “less than half (49%) of Australian men regularly seek shade to protect themselves from the sun during summer, and less than a third (29%) regularly use sunscreen”.
Skin cancer rates amongst young men are rising – however, sunscreen use is not. So why aren’t men wearing sunscreen? To help us find out, we sat down with Australian surfing legend, Mark Richards, to chat about his days under the harsh Aussie sun.
1. You were born and raised in Australia, what was the culture around sunscreen use when you were a kid? Did you wear it?
When I was a kid sunscreen was almost non-existent. The only sunscreen I remember my mum putting on me at the beach, I think was a Coppertone Nose Coat which would smear on your towel or wash off In the water. This was in the early 60's and there was no awareness of skin cancer.
2. First things first, answer honestly, do you wear sunscreen every day?
Yes, If I am going to be In the sun I always wear sunscreen. If I'm surfing I add zinc to my nose and cheeks as well.
3. What would make you decide to wear sunscreen every day? Or, if you already do, tell us why and what you like about the sunscreen you currently use?
I use it every day because I have a lot more awareness of the dangers of sun damage. I’ve also had personal experience in the last few years with having suspicious sun damage removed.
I currently use We Are Feel Good Inc. sunscreen. I like Feel Good because it's designed by a surfer, for surfers and for spending a lot of time at the beach. It's water resistant and non-greasy (which is a big thing for me) and I like that it has added ingredients that make my skin feel good.
4. Awhile back, statistics proved that Australian surfers and swimmers were three times more likely to get melanoma. How did that affect you?
I wasn’t aware of the statistics... it was more the fact that I had spent so much time in the sun as a child (unprotected) and so much time at the beach as an adult that I knew I had some sun damage. Having regular skin checks and many treatments with my dermatologist has made me very aware that I need to limit any more damage to my skin.
5. Do have any other sun protection tips for our readers?
Unfortunately, I don’t think young people take sun protection seriously... at some point it catches up with you. Getting a tan now leads to wrinkles, sun damage and melanoma later in life. I surf in a hat and always wear a sun-shirt or wetsuit. Find a sunscreen you like and use it!