What is your background?
My background is in beauty and lifestyle journalism. I started my writing and styling career in magazines and most recently worked in digital. These days I do a mix of brand work, creating content, copy writing and shooting. And of course, Call Time On Melanoma now takes up a lot of my time, too.
How has writing about sunscreen, beauty and skin cancer changed your perceptions about sun exposure?
Writing about beauty, you interview all sorts of experts, from dermatologists to skin therapists. Over the past decade, I don’t think I’ve ever had someone knowledgeable tell me there is a better anti-ager than sunscreen. So maybe my first intro to SPF was via vanity. (Lol.) But then learning about how the skin works, and what UV can do to it sealed the deal for me. Once you know, you can’t unknow.
Tell us about Call Time on Melanoma. What’s the story and inspiration behind it?
CTOM was inspired by my friend Natalie Fornasier, an incredible young woman who is living with advanced melanoma. Natalie was originally diagnosed stage III at 20, but after her initial treatment the cancer returned in her lungs. This is a young woman who has been through a lot, but triumphs over the horror of her circumstances with grace and a selflessness I admire so much. She is an inspiration not just to me but to the loyal community we have amassed since we launched CTOM.
Together Natalie and I are building an inclusive place for young Australian women (and everyone else) to go for facts, first-person stories and sunscreen recommendations. We answer community questions, engage experts to respond to unsubstantiated claims made by influencers and brands and give sunscreen recommendations. We’re talking with our community not at them. We want to help.
How did the Slip Slop Slap Campaign affect your skincare routine and what do you see now as a barrier to people taking care of their skin in the sun?
I remember the Slip Slop Slap campaign from childhood but I don’t think it reached me at a time where a) I fully understood the “why” behind it, and b) I was solely responsibly for my own sun safety. My memories of sun safety as a tween involve my mum nagging me to apply sunscreen but not policing it too closely, and my refusing to wear a rashie because I thought they were deeply uncool.
My interest in beauty and subsequent career has had a huge effect on my skincare routine. Sunscreen has been a non-negotiable part of my AM regime for at least a decade, and I don’t relax on it ever—it is the most important thing I do for my skin every day. I don’t find it a chore. To me, it’s self-care.
People don’t embrace sun safety for so many reasons. They may have a deeper skin tone and believe that fact means that they’re “safe” because they don’t burn. (It doesn’t.) They may hate the feel or look of the sunscreens they’ve tried. Maybe they straight-up want a sun tan and don’t care if it comes at a cost. (Or maybe they’re 20 and think nothing bad will ever happen to them—that’s easy when you’re not seeing the damage straight away.) There’s a lot to think about and a lot to talk about.
As a beauty editor, how can we use media to help people be mindful of their sun exposure and skin health?
First, ask more from the people you follow on social media. To be clear, I am not suggesting bullying or being insulting, I’m simply saying that if you see an influencer spruiking a sun tanning oil and you think that’s irresponsible, (politely) tell them. They’re human too—we’re all learning things every day. Similarly, if you see brands using misleading marketing language on their products (like saying a sun tanning enhancer prevents sun damage because it means you spend less time in the sun) tell them it’s not OK. This messaging is harmful and it has real-life, lasting damage.
Also—and this is important—stop contributing to the glamourisation of sun tanning on social media. The number of women who’ve told us they go to the beach in hat, cover-up and sunglasses but strip it all off for a bikini shot for Instagram, is staggering. It’s time to make sun safety sexy. It’s essential young women see that it is possible to be chic and safe at the beach, and that needs to be modelled by brands, influencers and all of us. Show the sunscreen, show the hat, show the sun umbrella. Show the fake tan. There are dozens of incredible brands making beautiful products to help us do this.
To find out more about CTOM, go here
Featured image: Natalie Fornasier (left) with Lisa Patulny