Ten Things You Should Know About Sun Protection

It’s time we brushed up on our sun protection tips. Some may just surprise you…

1) Do not rely on your cosmetics to protect you

“Many cosmetics are not tested to sun screen standards,” says leading dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe. It is estimated that in the cases of some products, up to seven times the normal amount of foundation would be needed to provide the stated level of protection. For this reason it’s always advisable to use a separate sun screen in addition to your daily make-up routine and ensure it offers both UVA and UVB protection.

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2) SPF 35 is your friend

Even in the UK, on a sunny day those with fair skin are advised to wear an SPF level of 35. Those with olive or darker skin tones are able to use SPF 15. This is because even small amounts of UV light which penetrate the skin can damage the collagen which keeps skin firm and smooth.

3) You may need sun screen indoors

It is a myth that you can’t tan through windows. Sort of. Most window glass blocks UVB rays which are implicated in sun burn, but does not filter out 100 per cent of UVA rays which cause ageing. One French dermatological study has proved that participants who regularly exposed one side of their face to UV light (such as when driving) had significantly greater signs of ageing on the relevant side.

4) …And when having a manicure

A 2009 study published in Archives of Dermatology reported two incidences of non-melanoma skin cancer which occurred on the back of the hand of women who had no family history of the disease. Having compiled a careful case history, the researchers proposed that the exposure to UV light that the women experienced when having a gel manicure (which is set under light) may have been a contributing factor.

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5) Use products containing antioxidants

Antioxidants such as Vitamin C help to neutralise the effects of free radical formation, which occurs when the skin is exposed to UV light and causes many of the visible signs of ageing. Increasingly, antioxidants are being incorporated into sun care formulations to reduce the damage which can occur. High quality day creams containing antioxidants will also help to mitigate any damage.

6) Eat to protect yourself

Of course, another way to get an antioxidant boost is to eat well. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, which increases in quantity when the tomatoes are heated. However the polyphenols in dark chocolate, black and green tea are also noted for inhibiting potentially damaging free radical activity.

7) Do not combine sun screen with ibuprofen

If you’re experiencing pain from sun burn, it is not advisable to take ibuprofen. The medication can make skin more sensitive to sunlight, potentially adding to the problem. Other medications which might contribute to increased sensitivity is tetracycline and some diuretics.

8) UV exposure can make skin conditions worse

While sunlight is often said to improve conditions such as acne and humidity can reduce the dryness caused by eczema, infra-red rays from the summer sun can increase blood flow resulting in flushing in rosacea sufferers.

9) It’s all about “A coin per zone”

 Another piece of Dr Nick Lowe’s skincare wisdom is to use a 10-pence size amount of sun screen per body zone (roughly translating to a limb). A slap dash application just won’t do. Women should pay special attention to their legs, while men should remember to apply sun screen to their trunk. These are the most common sites for diagnosis of malignant melanoma in either gender.


10) Turn off the Lights

Finally, if one excuse was needed to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather, it might be the fact that your desk lamp could also be emitting UV rays. Last year a report in the British Journal of Dermatology revealed that some energy-saving light bulbs emit very small quantities of UVA, leading to redness and skin damage in those with sensitive skin. 

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Gabrielle Lane

Gabrielle Lane is a London-based lifestyle journalist who writes across premium fashion, beauty, well-being and culture. She is currently deputy editor of luxury lifestyle magazine Vantage and has contributed to Pomp, Instyle.co.uk and The Kensington & Chelsea magazine. Her interview credits include leading figures from the worlds of business, the arts and entertainment.