Although the summertime is such a mood lifter, giving us a huge boost in vitamin D with warmer days and longer nights, it also requires a lot more care when it comes to looking after our skin and health. The sun produces Ultraviolet (UV) light which can damage the skin and excess sun exposure increases the risk of developing skin cancers.
There Are Two Types Of UV Light:
- UVA has a longer wavelength and is associated with skin ageing and pigmentation
- UVB has a shorter wavelength and causes skin burning and redness
Both UVA and UVB can harm the skin and cause skin cancer, although UVB contributes more largely to developing melanoma, which is the most dangerous skin cancer out of the three.
How Can You Be Safe?
Between March and October, when the UV is at its strongest, wear at least factor 30 suncream everyday (even when it's cloudy! UV rays can get through clouds, glass and can even bounce off of sand and snow). Make sure you reapply regularly or every 2 hours throughout the day.
Try to avoid being out in the sun between 11pm and 3pm when the UV is strongest in the day, sit in the shade and cover up with clothing and sunglasses.
What SPF Should I Use?
- An SPF (sun protection factor) of at least factor 30 to protect against UVB
- At least a 4 star rating UVA protection - you might find this on the back of the bottle
UV Index Vs Temperature
A cooler day does not mean a low UV index i.e a lower risk of burning and vice versa, despite common belief! Air temperature doesn’t affect the UV index. During the summer months, the sun sits higher in the sky which means the UV is also higher, so it's important to take extra care with your skin and top up your SPF.
But What Do The UV Ratings Even Mean?
Let’s simplify this, according to Cancer Research,
UV 1-2: Low exposure. No sun protection needed.
UV 3-5: Moderate exposure. Think about sun protection, especially between 11am-3pm.
UV 6-7: High exposure. Skin protection needed for most skin tones.
UV 8-9+: Very high exposure. Skin protection needed for all skin tones.
Skin Cancer Does Not Discriminate
Skin cancer does not discriminate, all skin tones are at risk of skin cancer. Research suggests that although people with darker skin tones are less likely to develop skin cancer, the incidence is much more fatal due to a delay in detection and a lack in education.
Remember, be safe, be proactive and be cautious.
Author - Lily Scales