Summer is here which means long hot days and plenty of beautiful sunshine which is great for our physical and mental health. Research suggests that the positive benefits of sunshine outweigh the potential risks providing we take care and enjoy the sun safely.
The best way to enjoy the sun and protect your skin is to use a combination of shade, clothing and sunscreen. Don't forget that children might need reminding or a helping hand though.
What to do when the sun is at it's strongest
- Make sure you spend time in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses and use light clothing to avoid excessive skin exposure.
- Use a sunscreen with a protection level of at least SPF 15 and 4 stars. Apply generously and reapply regularly.
Embrace the Shade
One of the best ways to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun's UV rays is to spend some time in the shade. You can find or create shade in many different ways:
- Trees and foliage
- Umbrellas and parasols
- Canopies and awnings
- Tents and shelter
- Going indoors
Don't forget though that UV rays can penetrate some fabrics and reflect off the ground!
Keeping skin covered helps to protect from sunburn along with a wide brimmed hat and good quality sunglasses .
The more skin that’s covered, the more protected you will be. Try to choose clothing that’s loose-fitting and deeper in colour. Also, look for materials with a close weave ( hold the material up to check that you can’t see through the fabric.) Dry clothes are far more effective than wet clothes, especially if made from cotton.
Hats are great for protecting the whole face and head. Ideally choose a wide-brimmed hat for the best protection.
Sunglasses are important to protect the eyesight as well as being a great fashion accessory.
There are a number of things to look out for when choosing your shades:
- 'CE Mark' and British Standard
- UV 400 label
- 100% UV protection written on the label or sticker
- Make sure they provide protection at the side of they eye - wraparound sunglasses are excellent for this.
Sunscreen should never be relied on to provide complete protection but it is important to help protect skin that isn't covered or protected by shade. The best way to stay safe is a combination of shade, clothing and sunscreen.
When selecting sunscreen always look out for the following:
- Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 (UVB protection)
- High star rating with at least 4 stars (UVA protection)
- UVA protection can also be indicated by the letters ‘UVA’ in a circle which indicates that it meets the EU standard.
Using sunscreen does not mean that you will not get sunburnt and care is always needed, particularly when sunbathing. Higher factor creams provide more protection but can also provide a false sense of security. You should never use sunscreen in order to spend longer in the sun. No sunscreen, no matter how high the factor, can provide 100% protection.
No sunscreen will give the protection it claims unless you apply it properly. Make sure you put enough on, ensure that all exposed skin is thoroughly covered in sunscreen and reapply regularly including 'water resistant' and 'once a day' products. Whilst some products are designed to last longer than others, rubbing against clothing. sweating and towelling dry will all impact how effective your sunscreen protection will be and how long it will last.
Check the expiry date on your sunscreen. Most sunscreens have a shelf life of 2-3 years, shown on the label by a symbol of a pot with the letter M and a number – this is the number of months the sunscreen will last once it’s been opened. Check your sunscreen has not expired before you use it and don't store it in very hot places as this can destroy the protective chemicals it contain.
All sunscreens use the same methods to determine how protective they are which means that that brand and price are less important than SPF and star ratings, which tell you how much protection they offer.
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