After months of constant rain, we’re fortunate the sun has finally come out. Whilst this makes our daily exercise more pleasant and gives us a welcome boost of Vitamin D, many of us have probably taken to sitting outside if we’re lucky enough to have some outside space.
Take extra care from 11am to 3pm
Dermatologists recommend we should use sunblock whenever we are outside for any significant time from April to October between 11am and 3pm. After 3 or 4pm, UV levels are lower and it’s safer to lie in the sun and enjoy the warmth. Practice the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are at their strongest, and you should find shade.
You can get sunburn on a cloudy day
The clouds only filter out about one quarter of the sun’s ultraviolet light rays (the ones that cause sunburn, skin ageing and skin cancer). So, if you sit outside don’t wait for the sun to come out before you put on sun cream.
Your SPF is much too low
We should all use at least factor 30. This is because when protection levels are measured in the lab, they are applied at a much thicker application than most of us use. We normally rub sun cream into our skin so in reality it will be a much lower factor. Make sure you use 30, 50 or 50+ with broad spectrum.
What is broad spectrum?
It’s important to note that SPF only describes the filter against UVB. Ultraviolet light is divided into UVA and UVB:
- UVB is the main cause of skin cancer - 90% occurs on the head and neck.
- UVA is also a major cause of skin ageing - brown marks, increased redness and blood vessels and of course wrinkling.
Cover all areas
It’s vital to apply sun cream to all areas of your face and body that are exposed to the sun, including all the little nooks and crevices of your nose and ears. Skin cancers are most commonly found on the ears, cheeks, eyelids, lips and nose. Remember to apply suncream 15 to 30 mins before you go outside. Re-apply ever 2 hours (or every hour if you have been sweating).
Be more cautious if you are taking any medication that can make you more sensitive to the sun. These include specific types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antifungals, blood pressure medications, and chemotherapies.