We talk a lot about the importance of sun protection and skincare when it comes to reducing skin damage and preventing early signs of aging. It’s not fun to talk about a redhead’s risks for skin cancer, but since Skin Cancer Awareness Month is coming to an end, we feel it’s important to end strong with this conversation.
Those who carry the MC1R gene (the gene that gives us our gorgeous red hair) unfortunately have an increased risk of skin cancer, specifically melanoma. Unlike some other forms of cancer, there are preventative steps you can take to reduce your risk of skin cancer. It’s important to start taking preventative steps early, as skin cancer often appears in redheads later in life. Here are some ways you can reduce your risk.
1. Always use sun protection
This may seem like a no-brainer, but most people think they only need sun protection in the summer months or when in a hot climate. The truth is you can get sun damage and exposure to dangerous UV rays year-round in any climate. Reducing the risk of skin cancer is easy when you apply sunscreen to your face and body and wear protective clothing.
2. Seek shade
Even with sunscreen, you run a risk of sunburn and sun damage. That is why it’s important to seek shade during peak times of the day, which are typically the hours of about 10 am – 4 pm. Remember shade may not always be available to you, so carrying an umbrella or wide-brimmed hat is encouraged.
3. Keep an eye on the UV index
Unsure if you need sun protection? The answer is probably yes, but you can check the UV index to be sure. The UV index is listed on your phone’s weather app, and anything over 0 means you need sun protection.
4. Avoid tanning
If you don’t love your sensitive redhead skin, you might be tempted to get a glow. Unfortunately, sun tanning and tanning bed use is a no-go for redheads. Not only is it extremely dangerous and proven to lead to a higher risk of skin cancer, but chances are you won’t even get much color. Instead, try a spray tan or faux tan at home to get your summer glow.
5. Use broad spectrum SPF
We all know using sunscreen is important, but the kind of sunscreen you use is equally important. Make sure you’re using something broad spectrum to combat UVA and UVB rays, preferably with an SPF of 30 or higher.
6. Reapply SPF often
Sunscreen isn’t a one and done, you do need to reapply every 1-2 hours to keep your skin safe. This goes for your body and facial sunscreen. If you’re wearing makeup, try applying a spray or powder sunscreen overtop or wear a hat to keep your face protected.
7. Don’t forget your scalp
Did you know that the scalp, head, and neck are some of the most common places to develop skin cancer? This is because we often forget about our scalp and hairline when applying sun protection. All the more reason to wear a cute summer hat.
8. Visit your dermatologist regularly
Doing everything you can to prevent skin cancer isn’t always enough, so make sure you visit your dermatologist regularly and keep an eye on your body. Skin cancer that is caught early can often be removed, so don’t wait!
Rock it like a Redhead!