We hear so many mixed messages about the dangers, or benefits of the sun. Hopefully not confusing you any further, I thought I would give you my thoughts on the issue
Most of us equate a golden glow with health, and a white pallor with being unwell. Neither is actually true, but if you want that glow there are ways of achieving it without putting your health at risk. I wish I’d known this when I was younger – years of using sunbeds in my late teens and twenties left me with skin damage that resulted in skin cancer in my 50’s. At that time it was thought of as a safe way to tan!
The first thing to recognise is that sunshine is actually vital to our health and wellbeing. Having just come out of the winter months we all recognise the emotional and wellbeing benefits of clear skies and sunny days, but shouldn’t forget the incredible beneficial effects of Vitamin D – essential for our immune system, increasing our oxygen levels and helping keep strong teeth and bones.
So sun exposure is a good thing, but over exposure isn’t – and sunburn is a definite no!
Sunscreens claim to block 90 percent of the suns harmful rays. Chemical varieties allegedly absorb UV rays. Does this mean we can slap it on and then lie for hours in the sun? Probably not! The results can still be walnut coloured skin at the end of a fortnights holiday – which just isn’t natural and realistically is likely to be causing changes to the dermis and epidermis which will at best result in signs of ageing and at worst to potentially cancerous changes to the skins structure.
UVA and UVB protection can be confusing. UV radiation is principally made up of UVA and UVB rays. UVA are less likely to cause sunburn but penetrate the skin more deeply and are believed to be responsible for wrinkles and the leather skin look. UVB rays burn and probably are the cause of some types of skin cancer
Most sunscreens claim to offer protection against both rays. But do remember that they only provide a limited protection, meaning that you can stay for short periods in the sun without the potential for burning. And a 50 SPF isn’t twice as powerful as 25 SPF. It actually only gives approximately 3% more protection, so don’t be fooled into a false sense of security by this.
I now avoid the sun between 12 and 3 when on holiday, taking the opportunity to find a restaurant where I can sit in the shade over lunch with a glass of wine and people watch. The rest of the time I make sure I limit any time spent lying out in direct sun to short 10 minute bursts every hour, enjoying reading in the shade the rest of the time, and wearing a natural sunscreen with minimum 30 SPF. I keep lavender oil to hand, it wards off the mosquitos and I am able to offer it to fellow holiday makers who have over indulged in the sun (can be applied neat and liberally to red skin, amazingly soothing!) Aloe Vera gel is also always in my suitcase, it’s a great aftersun basic.
So be careful out there. reapply sun cream liberally about 3 times an hour, and enjoy your holiday!
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun – and I say, it’s alright!