How to have a hot person summer all year round

Words by Sigrid (she/her) 21 QLD

Making sun safety sexy isn’t just a priority for the summer. Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the entire world, and unfortunately, us Aussies aren’t immune to skin damage, especially during the colder months of 2024.

Them: “Skin cancer is an old person’s issue. I’m young and healthy, I don’t have to worry about a thing.”

Me: WRONG. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in 15-29 year olds. This is caused by the sun’s UV radiation (more to come on this), which is also responsible for 80% of the physical signs of early aging, much of which is irreversible.  

It’s never too early to start protecting your body’s largest organ, so let’s dive into why skin cancer is such a devastating disease, and what we can do look after our skin.

How much do you really know about your body’s largest organ?

Your skin is a barrier that protects your insides from damage. It’s an incredible organ for many reasons (don’t get me started!), least so because it’s one of the only organs that regenerates itself. It contains millions of extra “blank-slate” cells (called Stem cells) that constantly turn themselves into new skin cells to replace the old ones that have been damaged by cuts or infections, or from the sun’s UV (ultra-violet) radiation.

UV radiation can very easily damage the DNA in skin cells. and when this happens, the Stem cells in your skin try their best to repair the damage inflicted by the sun. However, this is difficult, and sometimes these cells are forced to either die (resulting in your skin peeling) or mutate to survive. It’s these mutated cells that can easily become cancer cells, and the more intense or frequent the UV exposure, the higher the risk of developing skin cancer.

Them: “I’m only at risk of damage if I get really sunburnt.”

Me: WRONG. You cannot see or feel the sun’s UV radiation, so too much can damage your skin cells without you even realising, even when you don’t get sunburnt! In fact, by the time you tan or burn, the worst of the damage has already been done.”

Cancer CAN be devastating

Our bodies are made up of billions of cells. As we grow, the number of cells in our body also grows (our cells essentially replicate themselves over and over to create new cells). However, as we age, this replication slows and eventually stops for most cell types.

But there are certain types of cells that can still replicate even after we stop growing. Some of these are really helpful, like those incredible Stem cells, which your body uses just in case it needs extra cells to fix damage. But some of these are very dangerous, like cancer cells.

Cancer is, quite simply, a bunch of cells that have learnt to replicate at a dangerous rate, even when the body has told them not to. It has three unique (and scientifically crazy!) abilities that make it such a deadly disease. Cancer CAN:

  1. Camouflage itself from the body’s immune system, so that it can continually grow without being attacked by immune cells.
  2. Attack and invade the organs and tissues around it to create new cancer growths.
  3. Nutrients-steal by creating its own, completely new blood vessels (crazy!) so that it can feed off the body’s energy and continue to grow.

Making Slip! Slop! Slap! sexy again

Sunscreen should be a non-negotiable in every hot person’s skin care routine. It essentially acts as a filter that significantly reduces (but does not entirely block) the amount of UV radiation that can reach the skin. Broad spectrum SPF50+ sunscreen is the best kind, as it filters both types of UV radiation that reach Earth’s surface (hence “broad spectrum”), and is more than 50 times more effective at filtering UV than your skin alone (hence “SPF50+”).

Them: “But I won’t tan if I use sunscreen.”

Me: WRONG. Tanning isn’t as great as we think – it’s actually the first sign of skin damage. You’ll still tan following intense sun exposure because no sunscreen in 100% effective, but your skin will absorb far less UV radiation, lowering your risk of skin cancer.”

Hot people protect their skin all year-round. So, slip on some sexy coverage, slop on your SPF50+ broad spectrum sunscreen, and slap on that bucket hat. For easy sunscreen recommendations, check out Cancer Council’s website.


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