Skin Diaries

74-Year-Old Instagram Influencer Embraces Sun Safety and Aging

My name is Candace, but most know me as Leslie B from my Instagram channel Style in Your 70’s with Leslie B. I started my channel to help women embrace aging with grace and optimism. After all, ‘aging is changing’, and that’s a good thing. When I started posting, I was 72 and had been a model, then a wife, mother, grandmother, and I was ready to share with everyone the joy and enthusiasm I was feeling for my evolution. I wanted to help everyone feel vibrant at any age.

I share a lot of health and wellness tips, but I focus a lot on protecting your skin. I come from a generation that had no idea that the sun was bad for you. It never occurred to anyone back in the 50s and 60s that we needed to protect ourselves from the sun. Not only did we spread baby oil all over our skin to intensify the sun’s effects, we bought Sun Lamps to use inside when we could not be in the sun! Like many of the women I grew up with, I unknowingly made myself more susceptible to skin damage and cancer. I had my first brush with skin cancer at age 48.

I had a very itchy spot on my leg and just kept assuming it would go away. Thanks to the spread of information on skin cancers at the time, I was well enough informed to know that this needed to be looked at. I was told that it was a Squamous Cell Carcinoma and had it removed by a dermatologist.

This experience inspired me to start being more sun-safe. I first started to gradually incorporate sunscreen into my makeup. But still, for many years I did not use sunscreen all over my body.  For a long, while I worked as a model, the fashion and advertising industry continued to promote models and actresses with bronzed bodies. We weren’t hearing enough about how we were damaging our skin.

Then, two years ago when I was 72, I again noticed a suspicious spot on my other leg. Again, the biopsy came back Squamous Cell but this time it was more serious and needed a more extensive surgery, so I chose to go to a MOH’s trained surgeon where they were able to take as little skin as possible and test at the time of the surgery to make sure there were clear margins. It required about 26 stitches and a long healing process. Not even a month later I noticed another suspicious spot a couple of inches from the first one. Another biopsy revealed I had yet another Squamous Cell. While the first surgery was still healing, I went back to have surgery again.

At this point, sun protection became a much more significant part of my life—and my family’s.  Wearing sunscreen and sun protective clothing from Coolibar has become part of our everyday lives. I am very vigilant about checking my body regularly for other skin cancers, and I visit my dermatologist every four months for a full body check. I consider myself very lucky that so far, my cancers were all easily treated. Having had these cancers I know that there is a high likelihood that there may be more in my future. Hopefully, by being well informed, using SPF products and sun protective clothing that is guaranteed UPF 50, I can minimize my chances of developing more skin cancers in the future. By learning to choose only high-quality products like Coolibar and by becoming educated that not all UPF is created equal, I can help spread this knowledge to so many!

The one thing I want my followers to take away from my posts and my story are that aging isn’t a negative thing. There is so much we can do to care for our minds and our bodies that help us age and change gracefully. Protecting our skin is one of them. So go out there! Break all the rules and myths you’ve heard about the downside to aging. Put on your sun protection and have fun!

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