May 7th, 2015

A Guide to a Happy Safe Summer

Whilst many of us all strive for a golden tan this summer, it’s important to know that there is no really safe way to tan. When your skin is exposed to the sun it allows ultraviolet light to penetrate the skin. As a result, the skin produces melanin which gives skin a tanned appearance. When skin is exposed to ultraviolet light it changes the skin texture, encourages wrinkles and age spots to form and in extreme cases can lead to skin cancer.

We will look at how we can protect our skin and the difference between UVA and UVB as well as providing top skin protection tips to ensure that our skin is as healthy as it can be this summer.


What's the difference between UVA and UVB?

Skincare can be confusing at the best of times but we will explain the difference between UVA and UBA light. The sunlight than reaches us is made up to two different types of rays; both are equally harmful and overexposure can damage our skin. To put it simply, UVA rays age our skin and UVB rays burn us.UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer.  Not using sun protection can lead to premature skin aging and can suppress our immune systems. When our skin’s defenses are down this puts us at risk from skin cancer.

UVB rays burn the top layers of your skin. The intensity of UVB rays can vary depending on the season and time of day. Sunburned skin can feel very unconformable and will cause permanent damage over time.

What is SPF?

Simply, SPF stands for ‘sun protection factor’ and is a measure of UVB protection. The number is determined by exposing people to a light spectrum meant to mimic noontime sun. Some subjects wear sunscreen and others do not. The amount of light that induces redness in sunscreen-protected skin, divided by the amount of light that induces redness in unprotected skin is the SPF. For example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will delay the onset of sunburn in a person who would otherwise burn in 10 minutes to burn in 150 minutes. The SPF 15 sunscreen allows a person to stay out in the sun 15 times longer. There is no universal measure for UVA protection but in the UK this is measured using a star system from 0 to 5. The higher the number of stars, the greater the protection. It is worth noting, there are ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. It is advisable to use a sunscreen that offers at least  SPF15 and make sure the product is not past its expiry date – most sunscreens have a shelf life of about two to three years but check the packaging.

Sun Protection in the UK

There are two main types of skin cancer: non-melanoma skin cancer, which is very common, and malignant melanoma which is less common but more serious. Did you know over 8 out of 10 melanomas in the UK (around 11,100 cases every year) are linked to too much exposure to UV rays from sunlight or sunbeds. That number has risen more than four times since the 1970s. Most skin cancer deaths are caused by malignant melanoma and it is the second most common type of cancer amongst 15-34 year olds. Despite these alarming facts, the Institute of Cancer Research and Superdrug poll of 1,010 people found 67% used high-factor protection while on holiday, but only 33% did in the UK. The survey also found that 58% of people did not protect themselves by covering up when in the UK, and 48% do not stay out of the Sun in the middle of the day when it is at its strongest.  Almost four out of 10 people do not put on sunscreen for gardening and nearly half do not put it on for playing sports.


Sun Protection Tips

There are a number of treatments available for skin cancer however prevention is better than cure. To ensure you skin is protected this summer try these simple but effective tips.

  • Use an broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure to the sun
  • Reapply sunscreen every couple of hours, especially after swimming even if it says ‘water resistant’
  • Wear sunglasses that offer total UV protection
  • Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible, particularly during peak hours between 11am and 3pm
  • Regularly check your moles and skin for any changes or new growths
  • Avoid using sunbeds

07 / 05 / 2015

This is What Skin Needs Natural Skincare blog. Here we share tips for skincare, skin conditions and health.