Follow these simple sun care tips and look after skin whilst enjoying the sunshine ☀️
The sun’s rays may feel good but they are not good for your skin. Although you wont see it immediately, exposure to the sun can lead to wrinkles, age spots, and is the top cause of skin cancer.
We all have a different skin composition, depending mostly on our inherited genetics. Simply speaking, lighter skin needs much more care and protection than darker skin types. However, over time ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun damages fibers in the skin called elastin. The skin starts to sag and stretch when these fibers break down. The skin also bruises and tears more easily, taking longer to heal.
Sun Care Tips:
#1 – Use at least a Factor 30 Sunscreen
NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) recommends that SPF 15 sunscreen should be sufficient as long as it is applied adequately. However, if you are concerned that you are not applying factor 15 thickly enough, you should consider using a higher SPF sunscreen, such as factor 30. It is suggested that in order apply to appropriate amount of SPF 15 sunscreen, it should be applied at least every two hours. As a result, a person would use a 200ml bottle of sunscreen every two or three days. So, using a higher SPF is probably more practical and less costly.
It is also important you make sure you choose a sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
#2 – Always apply sunscreen regularly
Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going out and again just before going out. It should then be reapplied during the day regularly and liberally, roughly every 2 hours, as the sun can dry it off your skin. This includes applying it straight after you have been in water, even if the sunscreen is classed as ‘water resistant’. Water washes off sunscreen, and the cooling affects of the water can make you think you’re not getting burned. Water also reflects ultraviolet (UV) rays increasing your exposure. Also reapply after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off.
#3 – Use a natural sunscreen
Sunscreen is used to protect your skin against damage caused by the sun. This includes sunburn and skin cancer, both associated with exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun.
Many sunscreens contain toxic chemicals and other harmful ingredients. The substances in many sunscreens don’t stay on the skin they penetrate it. As a result this exposes you to possible short term and long term harm, depending on the chemical ingredients in the product. Some of the chemicals can reach the bloodstream and even show up in breast milk.
Natural mineral sunscreens usually contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Therefore protecting the skin by creating a barrier rather than penetrating the skin. As a result, these products are often referred to as sun blockers as they sit on top of the skin and physically block or reflect the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Natural brands also tend to avoid parabens, phthalates and harsh preservatives.
#4 – Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
Different people give different advice about what times to avoid the sun. However, according to the NHS UK it is best to stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
When you only have a short time for a well earned holiday it is hard not to try and use every possible hour of sunlight to enjoy the outdoors. However, when the sun is high in the sky (especially in the summer), the UV rays intensity is the highest and even relatively short sun exposure will lead to serious skin damage.
It is said however, that the midday sun is the most effective for our vitamin D production (and we definitely need our vitamin D daily dose). It is a kind of paradox really — vitamin D is produced exactly when our skin is being damaged by UV rays (particularly the UVB rays), so you need to be very careful with your sun exposure at high midday hours and watch carefully your skin (if it is getting even a little bit red — go inside immediately).
#5 – Make sure you never burn
Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. Sunburn does not just happen on holiday. You can burn in the UK, even when it’s cloudy. If you plan to be out in the sun long enough to risk burning, sunscreen needs to be applied twice:
- 30 minutes before going out
- just before going out
Also reapply sunscreen throughout the day and after being in water, even if it is a ‘water resistant’ sunscreen. Water washes off sunscreen and the cooling effect of the water can make you think you’re not getting burned.
Following Tip #6 will also help to insure you don’t burn when the sun is high in the sky.
#6 – Wear clothes that provide sun protection
No one really wants to cover up when its a nice sunny day. Firstly, it is hot. Secondly, you want to be able to show off your tan. Lastly, if you don’t get much chance to top up your tan then you want to make the most of any opportunity you get. Therefore, covering up doesn’t sound like the best idea. However, you should definitely include cover up options when planning your summer wardrobe. They should be versatile so they can be worn over your usual summer clothes like bikinis. Such as:
- a wide-brimmed hat that shades the face, neck and ears
- a long-sleeved top
- trousers or long skirts in close-weave fabrics that do not allow sunlight through
#7 – Always wear sunglasses
We don’t often think about sunglasses as an important part of our sun protection but more as a fancy and practical accessory. However, we should choose our sunglasses with great care. The sun can cause damage to the eyes (especially at the beach where the suns rays are reflected by the sand and water).
Sunglasses protect the delicate skin around the eyes from wrinkles. They also help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading causes of vision loss in the elderly. Wear shades whenever you go outside, even on hazy days.
There are several things to consider when choosing sunglasses. Firstly, you should choose sunglasses that protect from 99% of UV rays (UVA and UVB rays). Secondly, you should look for sunglasses that give sufficient coverage so they protect from every angle. Thirdly, not every frame is acceptable for protection. Aviator style sunglasses are not the best as the metal frame can reflect the suns rays and therefore lead to unwanted sun spots and freckles on the nose and cheekbone areas. So plastic frames offer better protection. Lastly, wraparound sunglasses and styles that fit close to the eye are especially good because they prevent the sun’s rays from coming in through the sides.
You should also avoid looking directly at the sun, as this can cause permanent eye damage.
#8 – Take extra care with children
Take extra care to protect babies and children. Their skin is much more sensitive than adult skin, and damage caused by repeated exposure to sunlight could lead to skin cancer developing in later life. Be sure to follow all the above sun care tips with children. Apply sunscreen, ensure they wear appropriate clothes to cover up and keep them in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
Children aged under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.
The sun is not just an issue during the summer months and you should be aware of it throughout the year. Sunlight can be reflected from snow, sand, concrete and water. Also, artificial light from sunbeds is particularly dangerous.
So regardless of the time of year (but even more so in the summer), always be careful and safe when it comes to the sun.