Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Sun Protection - What You Need To Know.

Protecting yourself from the sun is so important. I know I'm going to sound all 'mum' like during this post, but please take note. This is something which I feel so strongly about and makes me angry when I see people being so careless. Having had skin cancer in my family over the last year, this has made me worse for lecturing people on not protecting themselves properly from the sun. I'll try my hardest not to make this post a lecture, I promise! I'm pale as pale can be, and I like it that way. The sun has been out in Glasgow this past week which has resulted in me seeing countless people (including children) walking around with terrible sunburn. For some reason the second the sun makes an appearance almost everyone in Scotland loses their common sense and goes out to try and fry themselves. It makes me want to scream.

So, how do you protect yourself?
Short answer? Put flipping sun cream on. Please. Even if the sky looks overcast, the UV rays are still there.
Really though, before going out in the sun, put on a cream with an SPF. Personally, my daily moisturiser has an SPF15 which, during the Spring and Summer, I top up with an SPF50 before putting my makeup on. Yes, SPF50, in Scotland. I also cover myself in at least SPF30 before leaving the house so that I don't get caught off guard if the sun makes an appearance. It just is not worth the risk to go out without some form of protection on, if not for the lasting health issues damage to your skin can cause but for the premature ageing that sun exposure can cause. Think about it, any holiday abroad you've been on there was always that one ancient looking woman with skin that resembled leather and who had a bottle of baby oil next to her sun lounger and wouldn't get out of the sun between 8am and 6pm.

Ok, so what does an SPF do?
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is the grading system used to indicate how much of the sun's UV rays will be blocked by the cream.
SPF15 blocks around 93% of the UVB rays
SPF30 blocks around 97% of the UVB rays
SPF50 blocks around 98% of the UVB rays
As you can see, there isn't as much of a gap between SPF15 and SPF50 as you might expect. I mentioned that they block UVB rays, these are the ones that are more likely to cause sunburn, UVA rays are the ones that are more likely to cause lasting damage to the skin. So make sure that your SPF protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. You can make sure that you have cream with a good level of UVA protection by paying attention to the stars on the front of the bottle. The star rating system is there to indicate how much protection from UVA rays you will receive, 0 being the lowest amount of protection and 5 being the highest.

How else can I protect myself?
Cover up, and stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm as this is the hottest part of the day. I like big floppy hats and lightweight kimonos to keep myself covered up and shaded (look out for my floppy hats and kimonos I'm taking to Florida with me in a post over the next week).
Reapply your sun cream every couple of hours. Just because it is a high SPF does not mean it will last you longer, it still needs to be reapplied throughout the day particularly if you have been in water. The same also goes for the 'once a day' creams, please don't be fooled into thinking that applying once at 9am means you will still be protected later in the day until you go indoors at 4pm, you need to be topping it up.
Once you come out of the sun, put on some after sun or at least a really hydrating moisturiser to stop your skin from drying out. Even if you have no sunburn, it will keep your skin in great condition. I like to use an after sun body butter during the summer and on holiday as they feel a little bit more luxurious and feel incredibly soothing and hydrating on the skin.

But what if I want a tan?
Fake it. Go for a spray tan or use a self-tanning lotion at home, just make sure that when you do go out into the sun to slap on plenty of SPF. As I have mentioned before, I like being pale and am quite happy staying this way so I don't go for any fake tans but if you prefer to look tanned, go for it. By all means, go out and enjoy the sun while it is out there, here in Glasgow it isn't out very often so I make the most of it too - just be careful!

What are your tips for protecting yourself from the sun?

You can get more information about protecting yourself from the sun from the NHS website and Bioderma also have some good information online too.

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