How To Optimise Your Sun Protection


Your skin is the body’s largest protective organ and makes up around 16% of your body weight. According to research conducted by Prof Michael Herbst on behalf of the Cancer Association of South Africa, the average adult skin surface is 1,8m2 and weighs 11kg. It is composed of two layers: the inner layer, known as the dermis, and the outer layer, the epidermis.

South Africa currently has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world, after Australia. Skin cancer is the result of skin cell damage, and begins in the lower part of the epidermis, the top layer of the skin.

Moles & Melanoma

Skin Cancer

Dr Noori Moti-Joosub, dermatologist, Laserderm Dunkeld, says:


South Africa has one of the highest incidences of melanoma worldwide. The rate of melanoma cases in South Africa increases year-on-year.


Melanoma is a skin cancer involving the melanocytes (pigment-producing cells of the skin). It can spread rapidly through the lymph tissue or bloodstream, and involves many other organ systems. If detected early, melanoma can be cured by simply cutting out the offending lesion.


Mole checks should be part of every melanoma prevention programme. Monthly mole self-checks are imperative, looking both at your pre-existing moles and for any new ones.

Mole-mapping is a process of photographing each individual mole on your body at a high magnification, to determine dangerous moles or melanoma.

This should be performed at least once a year by a dermatologist. If you have had any dysplastic (changing) moles, mole-mapping should be done at six-monthly intervals. If you have had a melanoma, mole-mapping should be done three-monthly for the first year, and thereafter as directed by your dermatologist.

Mole checks and sun protection are the two most important factors in melanoma prevention.

Sun Education is Key:




Galderma’s Cetaphil Daylong recently partnered with Dr Dagmar Whitaker, president of the South African Melanoma Society, to offer airline pilots and cabin crew a day of free skin screenings and a consultation, as research led by Dr Martina Sanlorenzo and a team of experts, and published online on, found that pilots and cabin crew have twice the incidence of skin cancer as the general population. Whitaker explains that skin cancer is caused by both UVA and UVB radiation.

“Malignant melanoma, the most dangerous of all cancers, is caused by UVA. UVA penetrates glass and therefore puts motorists, but in particular pilots, at risk.”

The key focus of the South African Melanoma Society is education and awareness. Whitaker agrees that the sun has many benefits, but there are also dangerous side-effects. “Left untreated and detected late, melanoma is a deadly disease. However, if diagnosed early, it carries an excellent prognosis. Everyone needs to know that we need to look after our skin.”

Whitaker adds: “There are less than 170 dermatologists in South Africa, and there is a lack of spending on public awareness campaigns. That is why it is crucial for each dermatologist to educate the public and encourage groups who are particularly at risk – like pilots – to self-examine and check their skin.”

Warning Signs of Skin Cancer


Asymmetry – a mole or mark with one half unlike the other (not symmetrical). Common moles are round and symmetrical.

Border irregularities – scalloped / poorly defined edges. Common moles are smooth and have even borders.

Colour changes – Tan, black, brown, red, white and blue. Common moles are usually a single shade of black or brown.

Diameter – larger than 6mm.

Evolve – grows bigger and becomes more prominent.

What is SPF?


SPF (sun protection factor) is the measure of how well the sunscreen protects your skin against UV rays, and indicates how long you can spend in the sun before burning, compared to when you have no sunscreen applied.

If it takes three to four minutes for your unprotected skin to start burning red, using an SPF30 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 30 times longer (which is around one-and-a-half to two hours on average). You need to constantly reapply while in the sun to ensure the best protection.

It is important to know that SPF rates the product’s ability to deflect the sun’s burning rays (UVB). However, some sun protection does not protect against the harmful UVA rays. Sunscreens that carry the term “broad-spectrum” provide coverage against both UVA and UVB rays.

Your Sun Protection Programme

  1. Wear protective clothing.
  2. Avoid the midday sun.
  3. Always adopt shade-seeking behavior.
  4. Use an appropriate sunscreen.

CANSA Tips For Sunscreen Protection:

sun screen

  1. Use a sunscreen with SPF20 to SPF50 (depending on your skin type).
  2. Use a sunscreen that has the CANSA Seal of Recognition. This is a guarantee that the manufacturer has complied with strict criteria.
  3. Reapply every two to three hours.
  4. Sunscreens generally have an expiry date of two years. Do not use after one year once the sunscreen has been opened.

CANSA’s Seal of Recognition (CSOR) is given to products that offer protection against natural environmental elements that may lead to cancer (such as solar radiation). CANSA SunSmart Choice Seal (CSSS) products include sunscreens, UV-protectiv garments and apparel, sunglasses, shade items, solar and other radiation-warning devices.

All CANSA seal-bearing sunscreens comply with the EU Colipa standards and have the SunSmart Choice Seal.

These contain the CANSA swing tags and SunSmart Choice logo:

  • Baby Brands UV-protective hats and garments;
  • Cinnamon Designs UV-protective hats;
  • Emthunzini High Fashion UV-protective hats;
  • Mr Price UV-protective garments;
  • Oggie Clothing UV-protective garments;
  • Republic Umbrella Manufacturers UV-protective beach umbrellas; and
  • Woolworths Holdings UV-protective garments.

The 6 Sun Skin Types:


Type One: Red or Blonde hair, a tendency to freckles, blue or green eyes. Burns easily and has extreme sensitive. Doesn’t tan. Has the greatest risk of developing skin cancer. Should check their skin regularly, be aware of any changes and use an SPF 50 sunscreen.

Type Two: Blonde or light brown hair and blue or brown eyes. Burns easily and has a very high sensitivity. Only tans minimally. Has the greatest risk of developing skin cancer. Should check their skin regularly, be aware of any changes and use an SPF 50

Type Three: Brown hair and eyes. Burns sometimes and has a high sensitivity. Tans gradually to light brown. Although skin tans more easily, it’s still vulnerable to UV damage that can lead to skin cancer. Always protect your skin during the hottest part of the day. Recommend SPF30 to SPF40 sunscreen.

Type Four: Dark brown hair and eyes. Burns minimally and sensitivity is moderate. Tans moderately. Although skin tans more easily, it’s still vulnerable to UV damage that can lead to skin cancer. Always protect your skin during the hottest part of the day. Recommend SPF30 to SPF40 sunscreen.

Type Five: Dark brown hair and eyes. Burns rarely and sensitivity is minimal. Tans easily. Although skin tans more easily, it’s still vulnerable to UV damage that can lead to skin cancer. Always protect your skin during the hottest part of the day. Recommend SPF20 to SPF30 sunscreen.

Type Six: Black hair and dark brown eyes. Never burns. Sensitivity: none, except for eyes, palms of hands, soles of feet, earlobes and lips. Tans to a deep pigment. Your skin offers more protection against harmful UV rays than other skin types. Recommend SPF20 sunscreen, especially on sensitive areas.

6 Reasons Why You Need To Wear Sunglasses

sun protection

Luciano Caolo, Maui Jim Sunglasses regional sales manager, explains:

  1. You’re exposed to more sunlight than you think. “Always choose polarised sunglasses that block out 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation, to ensure your eyes are protected. Sunglasses that do not provide UV protection can cause more damage to your pupils, because they dilate when the light is blocked, exposing them even more than without sunglasses.”
  2. UV protection. “The sun’s harmful UV rays can lead to serious and, in some cases, long-term health issues, including photokeratitis (sunburn of the surface of the eye), pterygium (growths on the eye), cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer of the eye, eyelid or surrounding skin.”
  3. Skin cancer. “5% to 10% of all skin cancer occurs around the eyes. Always wear quality, protective sunglasses when outdoors – whether working, driving, running, playing or watching sports.”
  4. General eye comfort. “The sun’s brightness and glare interfere with comfortable vision and the ability to see clearly, causing squinting, eyes to water, and possible headaches.”
  5. Dark adaptation. “Spending even a relatively short time in intense sunlight can hamper the eyes’ ability to adapt quickly to nighttime or indoor light levels, and make driving at night difficult and even hazardous.”
  6. Blue-light protection (HEV – high-energy visible radiation). Use outdoor lenses that absorb the HEV, as accumulated exposure has been associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).