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The Safe Sun Guide
Not everybody's skin offers the same level of protection in the sun. That's why you need to know your skin type. The following information has been put together by the BSF and the British Association of Dermatologists.
Links about sun safety:
British Skin Foundation
Your skin type cannot be changed and does not vary according to how tanned you are, it is determined by your genes. It affects how your skin will react in the sun and how likely you are to develop skin cancer, so it's really helpful you get to know it using our guide.
Type I (very fair) have pale skin, burn very easily and rarely tan. They generally have light coloured hair or red hair and freckles.
Type II (fair) usually burn but may gradually tan. They are likely to have light hair, and blue or brown eyes. Some may have dark hair but still have fair skin.
Type III (light) burn with long exposure to the sun but generally tan quite easily. They usually have a light olive skin with dark hair and brown or green eyes.
Type IV (medium) burn with very lengthy exposures but always tan easily as well. They usually have brown eyes and dark hair.
Type V (dark) have a naturally brown skin, with brown eyes and dark hair. They burn only with excessive exposure to the sun and their skin further darkens easily.
Type VI (dark) have black skin with dark brown eyes and black hair. They burn only with extreme exposure to the sun and their skin further darkens very easily.
Types I and II are at the most risk of developing skin cancer, so need to take particular care in the sun: in sunny weather, seek shade between 11am and 3pm. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 that also provides UVA protection, and reapply frequently. Cover up with clothing and don't forget to wear a hat that protects your face, neck and ears. Don't sunbathe or use sunbeds.
Never let your skin burn, whatever your skin type. The science of skin colour
Black skin offers better sun protection because it produces more melanin - the skin's ultraviolet (UV) absorbing pigment produced by its special tanning cells in response to UV exposure, as a protective response.
It is the amount of melanin produced naturally in the skin that creates the varying depths of skin colour in people of different ethnic backgrounds, and the darker the original colour, the more easily the skin then increases its tan following sun exposure.
People of skin types I to IV have a significant risk of developing skin cancer with excessive sun exposure, particularly skin types I and II, and should therefore regularly apply sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor - protecting mostly against UVB) but also offering high UVA protection. A high SPF will help to reduce the risk of skin cancer and ageing, and the high UVA protection is to protect against skin ageing and wrinkling, as well as skin cancer.
People of skin types V and VI do not generally develop sun-induced skin cancer even if not using sunscreens, but may develop significant skin ageing with skin wrinkling, caused by both UVB and UVA. It is therefore worth using a moderately high SPF sunscreen also offering good UVA protection if concerned about that risk. If you concerned about any changes to your skin, see your doctor. If your doctor is concerned about a mole, ask to be referred to a Dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. Contact the British Association of Dermatologists (www.bad.org.uk) for more information.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information given is accurate, not every treatment will be suitable or effective for every person. Your own doctor will be able to advise you in greater detail. Do not treat this information as exact it is only a rough guide.
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