When I was given the opportunity to do an exchange semester abroad, I had a place in mind that I wanted to go…It was somewhere as far from home as possible and a place that would stay warm and sunny for most parts of the year. Just like that I’d found that place and began my plans to move to the Sunshine Coast. When I told people about my decision, many of them warned me about the thing that I was so excited about: sunshine.
Coming from a city in Switzerland, where summer is a total of 15 days (if we are fortunate), I was looking forward to the sunshine down under and spending time outdoors. For me, the feeling the sun on my skin not only makes me smile but is a sure remedy for any kind of “bad day”.
Having Indian genes does not only mean I was blessed with a dramatic essence to my personality but also a significant amount of melanin, so I’ve never had to experience the phenomenon of sun burn. Ever. So, the concept of sunscreen was irrelevant as far as I was concerned. My Swiss friends would be applying all the sunscreen they could get their hands on before we would leave the house. I on the other hand would be waiting for them thinking, “Pff, fair skin”. This was until last year, my friend from Zimbabwe, who is blessed with even more melanin than I am, pointed out certain facts to me. She said to me:
“Anet, sweetheart, the sun is very, very good for you, I agree. It provides you with vitamin D and it obviously makes you happy. Although, you might want to consider the fact that sun gives you wrinkles and makes you age faster. Also, too much sun makes you more vulnerable to skin cancer.”
This got my attention. But again, I thought applying sunscreen meant looking shinny and washed-out for the first hour or so while it soaked in. That’s when she told me, “I found this amazing new transparent, non-greasy sunscreen and it smells like coconut!” She had me at ‘transparent’. So, before a short trip to Israel, I went and bought a bottle of my own, and I loved it. I packed it in my suitcase and took it with me, only to come back home and find it untouched in my suitcase. Yup, as I mentioned before, the concept of sunscreen was irrelevant to me and since I don’t get sunburnt, I simply forgot about the sunscreen all together.
As I was getting ready for my adventure in Australia, all my friends warned me about the intensity of the sun and the importance of applying sunscreen multiple times a day. The way they described it seemed terrifying but I wasn’t surprised, because those were my “Caucasian friends”. They are super cautious of the mild “Swiss sun”, so I could see why they would be horrified by the strong “Australian sun”, especially when the ozone layer is rather thin on that side of the planet. So, I made a mental note to consciously apply sunscreen once I got there. After all, I did not want to be a wrinkly old lady before I hit 30. So, the first thing I did after landing in Australia was get myself a bottle of SunSense 50+ SPF sunscreen. I can proudly say, I’ve managed to develop a habit of applying sunscreen every single day.
I am a very social person and love hanging out with my Aussie friends outdoors. I chose to live near the beach, so I could learn to surf and I can say I’m slowly picking it up. My friends are not only fun to be with, they also help me with applying sunscreen on my back when we’re outdoors – all I have to do is smile and say, “please”. But as much as I like hanging out with them, I also enjoy my “me-times”. Me-time here on the Sunshine Coast means reading a book under the sun, by the beach. This however comes with the challenge of applying sunscreen on my back…by myself.
Funnily enough, the universe connected me with Raph, the founder of bakslap when I was looking to find a business to do one of my university assignments. His product bakslap was the answer to my sunscreen challenges, allowing me to apply sunscreen to my back and body by myself even when having me-time!
I am genuinely excited to now be a part of team bakslap, even if it is only for a couple of months and I look forward to owning my very own bakslap soon. Their passion for creating awareness regarding melanoma and their contribution to the Melanoma Institute Australia of $1 for every product sold, has inspired me in many ways. Raph’s story and his motivation to get this business running and bring bakslap into the market is contagious. Working with him has educated me on the importance of sunscreen in daily-life, regardless of how blessed I am with my melanin level.
I am eager to see where this journey will take me and wish Raph and his team all the very best in the future.
Anet Mathews – team bakslap