These days everyone knows about the warnings, but it's your holiday and you want to enjoy the sun - so read up on how to sunbathe safely. What follows will simply INFORM you so you know what's what.
What happens in sunshine?
Sunshine makes you feel good and happier; the world seems like a better place. But powerful ultraviolet (UV) radiation waves are given off by this bringer of plenty; the sun! Sounds serious, yes? And it can be. The rays that tan (and can burn and cause skin cancer) are UVB and UVA.
How do you tan sensibly?
When you're in the sun, the skin produces a natural substance - melanin - which gives some natural protection and causes the skin to colour and tan. Everyone has different levels - red heads for example, naturally have less. BUT, the levels - and therefore the degree of protection - take time to develop, which is why you should tan gradually and not worry if, on your second day, you don't see any signs of your sunbathing the day before.
Remember though, no one is completely safe from burning - so do be careful out there!
Say NO to sunburn!
UVB sunburn can happen in as little as 15 minutes, and will continue to develop for 24 to 72 hours after exposure. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin. It is these rays that cause longer-term damage like wrinkles, blotchiness, sagging and discoloration while also laying the ground work for future cases of skin cancer.
Never go out without applying sun lotion and always make sure you apply it at least a half hour before going out in the sun. All types of sunburn, whether serious or mild, can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage.
How can you make it safer?
By applying common sense measures you probably already know. BUT, having read the above, we hope you're keen to take them on board.
- RESPECT THE SUN
- Keep babies under 9 months out of direct sunlight (their skin is far too sensitive and damage could result (it) in problems later in life)
- Ensure children wear long sleeved tops, hats and high factor sunscreen when walking around. When swimming a t-shirt is a helpful addition to sun cream when in and out of the water.
- Use a sunscreen or block with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and re-apply regularly.
The SPF refers to the protection against UVB (e.g. an SPF of 15 allows approximately 15 times longer sun exposure without burning than with no protection. The higher the SPF, the greater the protection. There is a voluntary star system for UVA protection in sunscreens - more stars mean more protection.
- Take extra care with raised areas - tops of ears and feet, lips, nose, boobs, shoulders - use a total sun block after only a short exposure to the suns rays. Burnt boobs are not attractive and burnt feet really hurt.
- If you're swimming, use a water resistant cream and re-apply after taking a dip. Water babes - be aware that the sun's effects can be magnified on water.
- Avoid those times when the sun is at its most fierce - generally from noon until 15.00pm.
- To make sure you get the right sunscreen for your needs buy it before you go. Some left from last year? Check the expiry date as the effectiveness lessens over time.
- The sun's rays penetrate fabrics so don't rely on a cover up alone.
Now you're in the know - enjoy!