Just had a great couple of days at the 15th Sun Protection Conference held at the Royal College of Physicians in London on the 25th and 26th November 2021. Great selection of speakers talking about a wide range of aspects of sun protection and what the future holds for it. There are certainly challenges ahead for the industry in the next few years, which worryingly seems to be driven by a lack of understanding of what the ingredients in sunscreens are, how they work, and their interaction with us and the environment. Misreporting and/or misunderstanding of science by influencers and the media has done its usual job of stoking fear in the consumer, and sowed seeds of doubt with regards to their safety and benefits. On a more positive note, there was strong science presented on the benefits of sun protection, and the work going into the development of better products and consumer education.
The conference included talks from a range of industry and academic experts as well as physicians. I gave a talk on UV imaging and microscopy, and covered areas such as how to take photographs in the UV, the behavior of melanin at different wavelengths, the importance of knowing the limitations of the methods you use (an area which is far too often overlooked), my UV microscope build and what sunscreens look like when imaged with it and imaging in UVC.
Looking around the conference it made me realise that we need to get new people to give talks and present their work. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to hear from experts who have worked in this field for many years, but we also need new perspectives. It can be very daunting to get up and speak in these types of events, but remember that everyone is there because they have an interest in this area and are passionate about it. With sun protection we are also there to save lives. I strongly recommend anyone who has work they want to share with the world to reach out to conference organizers and see whether there is the opportunity to present their work.
This even turned out to be even more special for me, as I was given the award for the conference for my talk, by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. As a result I have the opportunity to write and publish a paper covering the work from my talk as an article in the journal (assuming it passes peer review) as an Open Access article. Normally the author has to pay to make the article Open Access, but the award covers the cost for this. This means that the article will be open to anyone to read, rather than people who have subscribed to the journal or who are in a position to pay for the article.