“PLEASE USE SUNSCREEN!” If Not for Us, for Hugh Jackman


Yada yada yada sunscreen. We know, you’re tired of hearing it. But if you won’t listen to us, how about a sunscreen public service announcement from Wolverine? Or Jean Valjean?

The actor Hugh Jackman is known for his rugged Aussie good looks, his superhero physique, and his Broadway show-stopping musical pipes. But in the past couple of weeks it’s Jackman’s skin that’s made news, as the Golden Globe and Tony award winner took to Instagram with a selfie of his bandaged nose. Confessing he’d just had surgery to remove a fifth basal cell carcinoma, Jackman took the opportunity to plead with his fans and followers: “PLEASE USE SUNSCREEN and get regular checkups.”

We applaud Jackman and second his appeal. And we want to take an opportunity of our own to dispel a couple of sunscreen myths that showed up, unfortunately, in the comments under his Instagram post.

Myth #1. Real men don’t use sunscreen. Jackman has confessed to falling for this one. In his home country of Australia (which has some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world) the outdoor lifestyle and tough-guy Ozzie spirit don’t put much stock in UV protection or skin care. Jackman is hoping his example will help change that.

Myth #2. Sunscreen causes cancer. This dangerous myth showed up far too frequently among responses to Jackman’s plea. Commenters claimed skin cancer rates have only begun increasing since sunscreen use has been recommended. Wrong! More awareness and more frequent skin checks, with earlier diagnosis and treatments, are what’s behind rising skin cancer rates–and cures. Also, the damage now showing up as skin cancer in adults was more than likely done years ago, before sunscreen use was popular. There is also a lot of dangerous misinformation out there about the chemicals contained in sunscreens. Contrary to myth, these are not carcinogenic! You may have a sensitivity to particular chemicals that causes irritation or an allergic reaction. In that case, choose what’s called a physical sunscreen–one that uses minerals to block sun damage without irritating sensitive skin.

Myth #3. The best sunscreen is “natural” coconut oil. Coconut oil is indeed natural, and contains lots of good fats. But slathering fat on your skin doesn’t protect it from UV damage any more than slathering olive oil on chicken breasts before grilling them protects the meat from cooking. Back in the day, when tanning was in dangerous fashion, sunbathers often used coconut oil, cocoa butter, baby oil (mineral oil), and other fats to speed the browning of skin. All tanning did, though, is damage–leaving behind premature aging, wrinkling, dark spots, and a highly increased risk of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. (Myth #3a–that skin cancer can be cured by applying a paste of coconut oil and baking soda to the lesions–is an even more dangerous offshoot of this misinformation.)

So take it from Hugh Jackman. Please use sunscreen (talk to us about the product that’s right for you, and how to apply it effectively) and get regular checkups (call us now, so you don’t forget). Wolverine’s nose knows!

Image source: Wolverine promotional poster, Marvel Entertainment