Foreign holidays may be off the cards this year but many of us are still planning to holiday in the UK. We often don’t see the sun as much as we may like in this country, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when the sun can be harmful to our skin as if we were abroad.
Given the infrequency of hotter weather, it’s expected that when it does come out all we want to do is travel to beaches and parks for sunbathing and picnics! We just need to make sure we look after our skin in the process.
The question we should be asking ourselves is how we can have fun in the sun but also stay safe. With our skin being the body’s largest organ, it is important we look after it just as we would with our brain, heart or lungs.
Humans need the sun to function correctly. Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, muscles and helping our bodies absorb correct amounts of calcium and phosphate from our diet to maintain healthy teeth. Although we may need the sun, our skin is very vulnerable to too much exposure.
Sunburn is caused by over exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, whether that be natural sunlight or artificial UV sources such as sunbeds.
Being over exposed to UV light is the main cause for skin cancer, but serious consequences are avoidable if you take some simple steps to look after your skin:
- Ensure you spend time in the shade between 11:00am and 3:00pm. This is when the sun is at its hottest.
- Stay hydrated with water (recommended 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day)
- Ensure you wear sun cream and top it up during the day (every 2 hours)
- Wear hats and sunglasses as sunscreen doesn’t offer 100% protection
Sun cream should be worn throughout the summer/warmer months with some dermatologists stating you should wear it on your face every day throughout the year.
Make sure adequate sunscreen is used; minimum SPF 15. SPF’s are rated on a scale of 2 – 50+ based on how much protection they offer. Sunscreens should have at least a four-star UVA protection rating, this can be seen as a ‘UVA’ in a circle on the bottle. Before using sun cream you should ensure it is in date – most have a shelf life of two to three years.
You must also ensure you use enough sun cream to cover your body. An easy way to think about how much to apply is if you used two teaspoons for your head, arms and neck, and a further two tablespoons for the rest of you! This is a guide and should be changed accordingly for individual people.
Be safe this summer, but please enjoy all the beauty and adventure that the UK has to offer!
To learn more about sun cream and sun protection click here.