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31st July 2020

Why Having Vitiligo Has Made Me Sensitive To The Sun….

Read our guest blog from Natalie Ambersley

After years sampling various product ranges in the sun care market, Natalie (37) finally feels as though she has found the right products for her skin and understands the importance of investing in good quality sunscreen. Natalie, who has the skin condition vitiligo, talks to SunSense about the importance of sun care and why protection should be a priority for everyone….


Natalie developed the skin condition vitiligo when she was just 3 years old. It started as a small white patch on the back of her hand, no bigger than a five pence piece. The reason for its appearance is, and will always be unknown, nevertheless, it was the early stages of the condition, which ended up evolving quickly and turning her body 70% white. 


Vitiligo is an unpredictable skin condition. For some, it might be that they develop one or two spots that appear on discrete parts of the body, whilst for others, like Natalie, it might be the first thing people notice because it affects a high percentage of their body.


Natalie’s Mum was advised from very early on about the importance of protecting her skin because areas of vitiligo burn easily in the sun. 


Naturally, this made her parents very protective of her skin. Natalie says, “My Mum was incredibly paranoid about my skin! Any sign of the sun whilst we were out or on holiday abroad, and she would slather sun protection factor (SPF) 50 sunscreen onto my skin. A few hours later she would call me back if I was playing, to reapply. I used to hate wearing it because back then sunscreen often felt greasy and took ages to absorb into the skin. They often felt sticky and oily which made me feel even hotter under the sun”. 


Since 2013, Natalie has become an advocate for vitiligo and in addition to sharing her story, she has often stressed the importance of wearing a good quality sunscreen She says, “I’ve always been an advocate for wearing a good sunscreen and protecting your skin from the sun. For people like myself who have vitiligo, the reason our skin is so sensitive is because we lack melanin (the pigment in the skin), so it’s less protected and more likely to burn if exposed to the sun for long periods. That being said, I did learn the hard way. I recall some occasions where I’ve applied sunscreen a little late in the day and ended up burning my skin, however, as I’ve got older I’ve paid more attention to understanding the risks”


Natalie first discovered SunSense whilst researching sunscreen brands online. She was keen to find a brand that cared about skin protection whilst providing the highest SPF and added protection against UVB and UVA.  On discovering SunSense, she knew that she’d found a brand that was reliable and trustworthy. She says, “My go to product is the SunSense Ultra which has an SPF of 50+ and provides 4 hours water resistance. In addition, I love that it’s lightweight, smooth and easy to apply. It’s a really important factor for me after years wearing sunscreen with a greasy texture. You only need a small amount to cover the skin, which means it’s long lasting. In terms of what I wear on my face, I like the SunSense Daily Face Cream, which not only has an SPF of 50+, but also contains vitamin E, which helps improve the appearance of the skin. It also contains an invisible tint, which gives your complexion a lovely colour. As an added bonus it can be used underneath makeup, which is always beneficial”. 


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Natalie believes that protecting your skin goes beyond wearing sunscreen. She says “Sunscreen is the first step in protecting your skin, but in addition, you should invest in a good hat when on holiday and try to sit under the shade as much as possible, especially between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun’s ray are at their strongest”.


As a final tip, Natalie says, “Try and get into the habit of wearing sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy. Make it a natural part of your daily routine. Where possible, apply at least 30 minutes before you go out so that it has time to absorb into the skin and make sure you apply liberally on all exposed areas to ensure you are safely protected. One of the best ways we can look after our skin is by protecting it from the sun”.


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