Just because it's Labor Day weekend and we're diving into back-to-school season does not mean you should retire your SPF. Ellie Campagna , a 26-year-old London-based stylist, emailed us with a story about her own brush with melanoma, and the products she now uses to cover up. As all of us at ITG have, we suggest you take note.
'It’s a familiar scene: new friends or colleagues watch me reach for my pocket-sized Nivea Sun Kids SPF 50 High Protection, cover up with my trusty blazer/cotton cardigan/long-sleeved blouse, or opt for the shady side of the street, and they just assume that I’m being fastidiously English (“belt-and-braces” proper about my sun protection!). But the truth is sunbathing, for me, is out of the question. I had skin cancer.
People always ask: how did I notice? How did I know? In truth, I didn’t. I was extremely lucky: brushing away what appeared to be a piece of lint from my foot after a morning shower, I discovered a new, black mole. Eight weeks later—after dermatologist, diagnosis, consultant, surgery, and a skin graft—treatment was over. I was extremely fortunate. Although mine was the most life-threatening form of skin cancer, the melanoma that appeared on my left ankle  was detected and removed early.
Thanks to good genes, I’d always been able to get away with a simple skincare routine, but my shocking diagnosis changed the game: I wanted to take better care of myself, I needed to. (I'd rarely spent time in direct sun as it was, and certainly not tanning.) It may have been easily treatable at Stage 1—a “thin” melanoma—but cancer is cancer. It didn’t feel “easily” anything. In our twenties, we feel largely invincible; youth is on our side, we’ve got time, we bounce back...
After my treatment and some soul-searching, my doctors encouraged me to get on with living; I mustn’t be burdened by the fear of being exposed to the sun. And it’s taken some trial-and-error, seeking the right sun-protection products in a crowded market, but I’ve found a few steadfast favorites. Finding a good face lotion with SPF proved hardest and it was only late last year that I found the one for me: Clarins UV PLUS HP oil-free SPF 40 Day Screen High Protection (now modified to include cantaloupe-melon extract, which lends the fluid a delicate peachy tint). I wear it every day over my moisturizer and before makeup. Now, two years in, sun care feels no different than any other part of my daily routine.”
Some of the products Ellie recommends:
Dior Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Crème-Gel Makeup, SPF 20 in 020 Light Beige
Clarins Daily Energizer Lotion SPF 15 (I use this when I travel and apply just before getting off the plane)
Nivea A Kiss of Protection Lip Care SPF 30 (I wear this when the sun is strong like a block, over my everyday lip balm)
Eve Lom Hand Cream SPF 10