Slip Slop Slap: Spreading The Word About Sun Protection

Last updated: January 2019

Ever since my brush with malignant melanoma, I’ve become rather evangelical about sun care. The easiest way I’ve found to spread the word to my friends and family without being too much of a bore, harks back to my sun care education as a kid in Australia.

Take it seriously

With the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, sun protection education is serious business Down Under. Many schools have a “no hat, no play” policy for the playground. You often see sunscreen dispensers public events like sporting matches or music festivals.

Spread the sun protection message

What sticks with me most is a little thing called Slip Slop Slap.

This simple slogan helps Aussies of all ages remember what to do before we go in the sun. Launched in 1981 by the Cancer Council of the state of Victoria, the campaign featured a singing and dancing cartoon seagull named Sid. He encouraged us to reduce sun exposure and protect ourselves against an increased risk of skin cancer with this catchy tune:

Slip! Slop! Slap!
Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat

Once heard, it’s a tune you never forget. It was the question hollered at us by our mom’s as we ran outside to play. Hold it right there, little lady! Have you Slip-Slop-Slapped?

Years later the campaign was updated by SunSmart, a not-for-profit, health promotion program in Australia, to add two more steps to the process: Seek shade or shelter and slide on some sunglasses. So the new tune went like this:

Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide! Have fun outside but don’t get fried!

These days I live in Scotland where it can be hard to convince people of the merits of sun protection when the weather is pretty grim and rainy much of the time. On our rare sunny days, you’ll often see people joyfully rush outside, discarding layers of clothing as they run, eager to feel the warmth on their limbs for the first time in months and months.

Gentle nudges

I am not one to rain on everyone’s sunny day parade. But I have been known to ask folks if they want to try something from my trusty collection of sunscreens and/or ask them if they’ve ever heard of Sid the Seagull while casually firing up the video on Youtube. If you need an easy way to give your loved ones a nudge to stay safe in the sun, I can highly recommend introducing them to Slip Slop Slap Seek & Slide. They may curse you for the earworm, but the message is a winner!

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