Its Sun Awareness Week here in the UK! The sun might not be out just yet, but we want you to be prepared for when it is! Here is our handy guide to staying safe in the sunshine!
Types of Radiation From the Sun
The sun emits many different types of light, and four of them travel through the atmosphere to reach us. The first is visible light, which enables us to see, and the second is infrared which transports heat energy, enabling us to feel the heat from the sun.
The other two kinds of light are known as UVA and UVB. These are the types of light we need to protect ourselves from.
UVA accounts for 95% of UV radiation reaching the Earth. UVA penetrates the skin and is responsible for skin ageing, wrinkles and sunspots.
The second type of light ray is UVB. It is the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn. Burning causes damage to the skin’s superficial epidermal layers and plays a key role in the development of skin cancer.
Benefits of Sun Exposure
It’s not all so scary! There are some important benefits to short periods of sun exposure. Most Vitamin D is sourced from sunlight. Our bodies need Vitamin D for strong bone development as well as maintaining a healthy immune system. When exposed to sunlight, our skin produces and stores Vitamin D. Short periods of sun exposure before 11am and after 3pm are perfect for helping to regenerate the bodies Vitamin D stores.
How Can I Stay Safe in the Sun?
1. Pick a sunscreen with a high SPF
SPF is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, the type of radiation that causes sunburn, damages skin, and can contribute to skin cancer.
Here’s how it works:
If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer.
SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
2. Pick a sunscreen with high UVA protection
Finding a sunscreen with UVA protection means you’ll also be preventing premature skin ageing. Sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays are often referred to as ‘broad spectrum’.
Some sunscreens will display their UVA protection as a percentage whilst others use a star rating. This star rating was introduced by Boots The Chemist in order to provide an easy way to gauge UVA protection. The higher the star rating, the better, but this will only appear on brands also sold by Boots.
3. Stay out of the sun between 11am-3pm
The sun’s rays are strongest between the hours of 11am and 3pm. Therefore we would always recommend staying out of direct sunlight during these hours. This doesn’t have to mean staying inside but we would recommend considering a parasol or beach tent to keep you in the shade!
4. Stay hydrated
If your skin is dehydrated it can put it under more stress, making it more susceptible to sun damage. The sun also poses a risk of causes severe dehydration and heat stroke. Staying hydrated while you’re enjoying the sunshine is key to preventing this, so make sure to bring a bottle of water with you when the sun is out!