When it comes to sun safety, even the radiant Deborah Hutton admits she’s made her fair share of mistakes.
“I grew up in the inner west… I’d catch three buses to get to Bondi and take my bag full of coconut oil,” she tells The Weekly over the phone.
Recalling the unmistakable scent of Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil, Deborah confesses: “It was always a bit of a badge of honour to have your first [sunburn] peel.
“It was like you were seasoning a wok for the first time – you burn it off, your skin peels and you’re ready to go. Oh my god what were we thinking!”
Today, the media icon is urging fellow Aussies not to make the same mistakes she did in her youth.
She was horrified when she first saw the picture, but it was that feeling that pushed her to post it.
“This is a feeling everyone should have because this could happen to them, this is what it could look like,” she says.
The image went viral, inspiring thousands of other Aussies to get their skin checked. In fact, Deborah still receives messages from people who caught their own skin cancer early because of her post.
“The good that it has done has just blown me away… the more people that can get on the bandwagon and talk about it, the more lives we can save.”
It’s that urge to save other Aussies from skin cancer that inspired Deborah to launch Canopy Bay.
After discovering how little sun protection the average hat provides, the 59-year-old paired with specialist sun hat supplier Rigon to design the new range of skin safe, UPF50+ hats.
“I just thought you put a hat on with a wide brim and you were fine – didn’t we all?” she says.
But while most hats provide shade, not all of them guarantee protection from the harmful rays that cause skin cancer. Canopy Bay hats do, though.
Deborah never wants another Aussie to go through what she did and is hoping these hats will help make that a reality.
“What I’m going through and what I will go through is a testament to how I’ve lived in the past,” she explains.
“I remember people saying to me years ago, ‘you’ve got to protect yourself or one day you’ll really regret it’. And isn’t that the truth?”
Naturally, Deborah made sure all Canopy Bay hats are as fashionable as they are sun safe, even creating one style in honour of late Australian fashion icon, Carla Zampatti.
The television personality also worked hard to provide a style that would appeal to every demographic, including the “invincible” 20-somethings.
WATCH BELOW: How to spot the early signs of skin cancer this summer. Post continues after video…
“There’s not that many people with hats on, particularly younger people in their 20s,” Deborah notes, adding that she was young and untouchable once too.
“It’s not just skin cancer, it’s everything […] we’re young and we think we’re going to survive anything,” she says.
If she could have her time over again, the 59-year-old would definitely make a few changes to protect her own skin.
Deborah regularly works with makeup artists who have flawless complexions and every one of them credits using sunscreen, wearing hats and avoiding harmful UV rays.
“I think ‘s–t, why didn’t I do that years ago?’ That’s how I’d like to be ageing if I could roll back a bit of time,” Deborah laughs over the phone.
Though she’ll never tell an Aussie to stay out of the sun altogether – because who wants to miss out on Australian summers – she urges people to be more informed about sun safety.
With the weather already warming up, it’s time to crack out a hat – “maybe a Canopy Bay style,” she jokes – especially once lockdowns lift and we can embrace the outdoors again.
In the meantime, she’s making the most of lockdown with plenty of walks and a bit of rest and relaxation… between the host of projects she’s working on remotely, of course.
“I’m doing so well [in lockdown]. The franticness of my life has really receded,” she smiles.
“Work is everything for me but there’s a lot of peace and calmness in Sydney right now… I like the feeling.”