Sun Awareness Week – know the facts

Posted on: 04 May 2011 by Rhian Mainwaring

Follow our top tips for staying safe and enjoying the sun

During sun awareness week, we thought we’d bring you the best ways to bask in the sunshine without putting your health at risk. It’s one of the quintessential sights of summer, English skin looking red raw the second the sun comes out, and while it’s great for the body and mind to soak up some well needed vitamin D, we should also be mindful of the risks.

Stay out of the sun at the hottest time of the day or cover-up

Between 11am and 3pm the sun is at its highest and strongest, so during this time it’s advisable to stay out of direct sunlight, even if it doesn’t feel that hot. If you are out at this time then cover up: cool clothing for your body, a hat to protect your head and sunglasses, they’re not just for looking cool, they’re for protecting your eyes!

Long term exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of a type of cataract and your eye can burn just like your skin does – sound’s painful doesn’t it! When you’re shopping for sunglasses look for wide rimmed styles, which will protect the skin around your eyes and buy a pair that carry the ‘CE Mark’, a ‘UV 400’ label and a statement that says the sunglasses offer ‘100% UV protection’.

Use sunscreen

OK, this isn’t particularly ground breaking, but it’s surprising how many people only use sunscreen on holiday. A hot day in the UK can be more than enough to make you burn (as we’ve seen this past month) so it’s important to moisturise and protect your skin.

A lot of daily face moisturisers contain sunscreen, so the next time you’re buying moisturiser be sure to invest in a product with a high SPF (sun protection factor), this way it’ll be part of your daily routine.

The SunSmart campaigns sunscreen checklist

  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. 
  • Choose a sunscreen labelled "broad spectrum", which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with a star rating of four or five stars. 
  • Apply sunscreen to clean, dry skin. 
  • Use around two teaspoons of suncream to cover your head, arms and neck. 
  • Use at least two tablespoons of suncream to cover all your exposed skin, if you're wearing a swimsuit. 
  • Re-apply sunscreen regularly (at least every two hours) as it can come off through washing, rubbing or sweating. 
  • Re-apply sunscreen after going in the water, even if it's labelled waterproof. 
  • Use sunscreen along with clothing and staying in the shade to avoid getting caught out by sunburn. 
  • Don't be tempted to spend longer in the sun than you would without sunscreen. 
  • Don’t forget to check the expiry date on your sunscreen, and don't use it if it has expired. 

What if I have naturally dark skin?

Anyone can develop skin cancer, but people with a naturally darker skin tone are less likely to develop the disease as their skin has more natural protection against UV rays – but this certainly doesn’t mean you can’t burn, so use sunscreen, even if it is low to moisturise and protect your skin.  The less melanin you have in your skin the more at risk you are to sunburn and UV damage, so if you have particularly pale skin, have burnt before or have a family history of skin cancer be extra diligent. 

If you have a mole that you’re concerned or would like to learn more about taking care in the sun head to the NHS choices site, there you can use the mole checker self-assessment tool and find out more information on skincare. But, if you’re ever in any doubt speak to your GP.

Suncream deal!

Boots’ Soltan range has undergone a bit of a makeover, but still contains their great sunscreen. With a multitude of SPFs, spray or splurge bottles, adult and kids ranges and aftersun creams, you can get all of your products in one place – and right now they’re buy one get one free! Go to their sun shop for more details.

So, as with everything that feels good, enjoy it in moderation, keep covered up, don’t overdo it and enjoy the sun safely.

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