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Ways of keeping safe in the sun

There’s nothing better than having the feeling of sun on your skin especially after a long dreary winter, it can cheer you up and give your system a boost too.

However, while it is still the fashion to have a suntan and you may look good while you’re young, it is worth remembering those UV rays can harm your skin and do lasting damage.

Our UK summers, although not usually overly hot can still have an effect on your skin so here are some ways to ensure you enjoy and stay safe in the sun this summer:

Keep to the shade

The easiest way to protect yourself from the sun is to find shade during the hottest part of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm.  Sit under an umbrella, relax under a tree or stay inside.

  • the sun’s heat comes from infrared rays but it is the invisible UV rays that can damage our skin. These rays change our skin cells which may result in sunburn, premature ageing, eye damage and ultimately skin cancer.
  • the sun is at its hottest at slightly different times when you are abroad so simply looking at your shadow will indicate when the sun is strongest. The general rule of thumb is if your shadow is shorter than your height then it’s safest to keep to the shade.

 When there is no shade

Cover up!  The best way to protect yourself is to wear a wide-brimmed hat, loose-fitting clothes and good sunshades.

  • You are better protected, the more you cover up. The thicker the cloth the fewer UV rays will get to your skin, so if you can see through the material when you hold it up to the light then it is likely the harmful rays can get through too.
  • It’s also worth noting that wet clothes stretch and will let through more light, so a wet cotton t-shirt, for example, will not give you as much protection as a dry one.

Which sunglasses to choose?

It is sensible to wear sunglasses in strong sunlight as UV rays can damage the eyes and may result in cataracts and even eye cancer.

Tips on buying sunglasses:

  • look for the British Standard – BS EN 1836:1997 – and the CE Mark
  • there should be a UV 400 label
  • they should carry a label offering 100% UV protection

Do ensure the pair you buy gives side protection too.  You can find a wrap around style which is very effective.

Choosing the right sunscreen

It is recommended that sunscreen is used alongside shade or clothing to avoid sunburn as it will not offer complete protection from harmful rays.  Sunscreen should never be used to enable you to stay under the sun for longer.

How to choose sunscreen:

  • if you go for a sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) then you will be more protected but you must choose one showing a minimum of 15 SPF on the bottle at least.
  • look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen and it should ideally have a star rating of four stars or more

How to use sunscreen:

  • sunscreen must be applied to clean, dry skin
  • put on plenty and re-apply frequently as it can easily come off in water or through sweating or rubbing
  • waterproof sunscreen should still be re-applied after swimming
  • heat can make sunscreen less effective so do not store in very hot places
  • remember to look at the expiry date on the bottle. The shelf life of most sunscreens is two to three years so do make sure yours hasn’t expired before you use it.

Source: Cancer Research UK


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