Slip Slop Slap: A Way of Life in Australia

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The ingredients for slip slop slap in Australia

With a giant hole in the ozone layer above Australia, there is an entirely different approach to spending time in the great outdoors here. One in three people suffers a bout with skin cancer, and evidence of it is common; I see many a reconstructed nose, bits of ears missing, or grafted skin on various parts of people’s faces and arms.

This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. 

Sure – everybody needs their dose of vitamin D, and so between September and May people are advised to be outside for just five minutes, twice a day, before 10am and after 3pm. During the winter months, your twice daily dose of vitamin D can be increased to 15 minutes. And no matter what the time of year, if you are outside between 10am and 3pm, “slip slop slap” applies.

Slip Slop Slap is part of a marketing campaign launched many years ago to promote proper protection against the sun and to create responsible outdoor habits:

Slip on some sunnies (Australian for “sunglasses“).

Slop on some sunscreen.

Slap on a hat.

Yes. You will visit beaches and see the regular round of sun-worshipers working hard on their tans. But you will also notice that the vast majority of them are rebellious teens who haven’t yet come to understand their mortality. Any native Australians I have chatted with who are in their 30s or older are usually proud of being pasty-white, and have tales of a few awful sunburns growing up, and few if any years of boasting good tans. Mostly out here, you just burn. And even when you do tan, one year of fostering that golden look will easily add five years to your complexion.

A friend of mine cited spending a summer in Italy, where she discovered that she actually has the ability to develop quite a nice tan without really trying; but back in Australia, the same level of outside activity simply led to painful burns.

So as the summer encroaches, I will start to adopt the Australian sun-slogan: Slip Slop Slap. Already I have forgotten my sunnies on occasion and regretted it; out here the sun truly has a blinding strength that I am unaccustomed to. I have said goodbye to my beautiful Hawaiian tan, and am saying hello to a pale freckle-free look. It is the “style” here, after all.

See Also: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling: Natural Preventions and Cures

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3 thoughts on “Slip Slop Slap: A Way of Life in Australia”

  1. Crap! I figured I was getting it wrong somehow…I asked a number of people, and the answer wasn’t always the same….or maybe they just said it too quickly…(smiles)

    Thanks for the clarification!

  2. Sun exposure alone is not what causes skin cancer. All the toxins, pesticides, chemicals that accumulate in the body are what cause skin cancer – when they react with the UV rays. The ingredients in sunscreen have been proven to CAUSE skin cancer. If you must use sun screen make sure to use one that is all natural and doesn’t contain any parabens or dioxane.

    I never advise getting burned, so please slather up when you will be out too long! But wearing sunscreen all day every day is exactly what we need to avoid.

    UVB rays are what promote the body’s own cancer fighting mechanisms from the inside. By not getting UVB rays we are actually increasing our cancer risk. UVB also provokes collagen and relastin growth. UVA is essential for vitamin D and a tan.

    Skin cancer rates we never traced until the 1920’s when sunscreen was marketed. Since then skin cancer rates have increased yearly (along with the increased use of sun screen) – similar to the “fluoride is good for teeth” argument.

    Eat an organic natural diet, avoid chemicals, wear a hat. Don’t wear sunscreen unless you will be out at the beach all day or will absolutely burn. The skin will absorb what you put on it, so I wouldn’t use a sunscreen that I wouldn’t eat 🙂


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