Sun safety tips

It seems that summer is here to stay with weather forecasts promising another hot and sunny week! For practical advice about how to protect your skin in the sun, have a read of my tips below: 

1. It is always important to protect exposed skin from UV rays to reduce the risk of skin cancer and to prevent premature ageing, pigmentation and exacerbation of skin conditions like rosacea. This is most crucial between April and September in the UK when UV levels are at their peak, but common sense should also apply at other times of year when UV levels are reduced, but not totally absent.

2. Apply a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to exposed skin 15 minutes before heading outdoors. Look for a non-comedogenic product if you are prone to blackheads or breakouts, meaning that it won’t clog your pores.

3. No SPF offers 100% protection, but the higher the factor the better. For example SPF 15 gives approximately 93% protection compared with 97% for SPF30 and 98% for SPF50.

4. To get the level of protection on the product label, you need to apply the product liberally and in an even layer. As a rule of thumb, a golf ball-sized blob is about the right amount to protect your whole body and a quarter of a teaspoon is about the right amount for your face!

5. Most SPF products will have an expiry date stamped on the packaging or details of when the product should be replaced. In general, sunscreen should be replaced within a year of opening, but mists or sprays may last longer as they are stored in pressurised containers.

6. The terms “mineral” and “physical” sunscreen are often used interchangeably to describe sun protection products that scatter or reflect UV radiation. The primary ingredients in these products are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation and are composed of synthetically-prepared organic chemicals that can be classified as UVA or UVB absorbers. They are often combined with physical sunscreens or with each other to prevent UV radiation from penetrating the epidermis, the skin’s uppermost layer. 

7. I would strongly advise against using makeup as your sole form of SPF. We just don’t apply these products in a thick or even enough layer to get anywhere close to the level of protection provided by a typical sunscreen or sun protection moisturiser. Instead, makeup with SPF should be thought of as your second line of defence against UV rays once you’ve already applied sunscreen because two forms of sun protection are better than one.

8. Sweating, swimming and towelling off can reduce the effectiveness of your sunscreen, so it needs to be topped up every couple of hours and as soon as you get out of the pool. Even if you’re just dashing in and out of the office for lunch or on the way home, your sunscreen will lose effectiveness over the course of the day and is likely to have rubbed off a little so care should still be taken with topping up in a city environment.

9. Take extra precautions or head indoors between 11am and 3pm when the sun is directly overhead. Remember that no sunscreen gives 100% protection, so sun avoidance, protective clothing, sunglasses and hats should also be considered.

© 2018 Dr Justine Kluk. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents of this post in any form is prohibited. You may not, except with our express written permission, copy, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.



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