Allana Davison, a Vancouver-based content creator and blogger, discusses her summer skin care routine and offers tips to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
What’s your biggest skin concern during the summer in Canada?
I think that a lot of us Canadians leave sun care and sun concerns as an afterthought and that we’re generally behind on the topic as a society. Growing up on the west coast, sunny days were few and far between. Because of this, I was a regular at tanning bed salons and took any opportunity to bask outside on the rare sunny days.
In recent years, I’ve realized that just because I don’t live in a hot, tropical climate, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be concerned about the sun. There’s so much misinformation out there regarding the sun and tanning and whether it’s good for you, but I’ve learned that my habits surrounding sun care and tanning needed to change.
For Canadians wanting to enjoy the sun, what steps do you recommend people take to protect their skin?
Wear sunscreen every day! I even keep a little travel-friendly sunscreen balm in my purse, which I try to remember to apply to my hands while on the road. I also wear polarized sunglasses with large frames to keep my eyes protected, especially when driving. There are so many amazing sunscreen brands on the market nowadays that make daily sunscreen wearing so doable.
Why did you decide to get screened for skin cancer?
In 2019, I had “margarita burn,” also known as phytophotodermatitis, on my hands, which came about from squeezing limes to make a lovely beach beverage. This led to bulbous third-degree burns all over both hands. Since then, the skin on my hands has become extra sensitive and I’ve had to pay more attention to taking care of the skin on my hands in the sun. “Margarita burn” is a real thing and I would definitely suggest looking it up so that you can prevent it from happening to you. After this ordeal, I became more invested in the practice of sun care in general and started to take note of the spots and patches on my skin.
The following year, I noticed that two really small black spots had suddenly appeared on my leg and they looked different from the rest of the spots in the area. A dermatologist confirmed that the moles were of concern, and after a biopsy, further confirmed that the moles contained pre-melanoma cells. They informed me that if the moles were left untreated, the cells would become cancerous over time and that I was relatively young to have them as the cells can take years to develop. I had to go in a few weeks later to have a larger surface area removed around the spots to ensure that nothing had spread beyond the visible mole. It was a minor procedure and I was only left with two scars on my leg, but it acted as a huge wake-up call for me and my sun-worshipping attributes.