I don’t know about you but I was brought up to believe being outside in the summer was healthy and if the sun was shining, we children were outside from sunrise to sunset, soaking up the rays! If we went to the beach, Mum would have Sun lotion or oil in her bag accompanied by Calamine lotion for when we burnt! In those days, the sun, tan lotions were marketed to be used only when you were on holiday. We did not know then about the dangers of sitting in the sun.
We now know that sitting in the sun is not recommended but there are so much misinformation and confusion about the dos and don’ts I have listed below some of the common questions raised by clients in the clinic.
Why do I need to protect my skin from the sun?
When you sit in the sun you are exposing your skin to UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the rays that we associate with sunburn and sitting on the beach whereas UVA rays are much longer and penetrate deeper into the skin. They are responsible for causing damage at a cellular level, making them responsible for most skin cancers and the main cause of visible ageing in the form of wrinkles, sagging and age spots.
Does getting the sun burnt and using sunbeds increase the risk of skin cancer?
Most tanning booths use UVA as the main form of radiation to cause the tanning effect. The main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to UV radiation. Like the sun, sunbeds give off both UVA and UVB rays. Your risk of skin cancer is related to your lifetime’s exposure to UV rays from the sun and sun beds. The risk of skin cancers is highest for fair-skinned people but that said, skin cancer can develop in all individuals regardless of skin pigmentation.
How much sun cream should I use?
It is always advised to apply SPF generously which I would suggest is 30ml for the body and 5ml for the face. So an easy way to remember is a shot glass for the body and a teaspoon for the face. Remember if you have chosen a chemical SPF, it should be applied 30 mins before exposure to the sun. If you think most people only apply about one-third of the recommended amount so it’s no wonder we see so many sunburnt people on our holidays.
However careful we are, sometimes you can overexpose your skin to the sun and this can cause permanent damage to your skin cells. I would suggest using an after sun product each time you sit out in the sun to soothe and repair your skin. We use Dermalogica After the sun which is an incredibly soothing treatment balm that helps to repair damage from over exposure and it helps to cool sunburn and reduce discomfort. It’s so effective I even use it as a mask in the treatment room for irritated, inflamed skin as its healing ingredients are second to none.