Sun Protection

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Ways to Enjoy the Sun Safely

1. Shade

One of the best ways to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays is to spend some time in the shade.

When there’s no shade around, the best way to protect your skin from the sun is with loose clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Remember: On sunny days try to avoid being outdoors for long periods from 11am to 3pm when UV radiation is highest

The best alternatives:

  • Bring your own shade – canopies, beach umbrellas or tents are excellent (but remember canopies and umbrellas don’t protect you from UV rays reflected back from sand, water or other surfaces)
  • Find a tree to cool down under
  • Organise indoor activities for the middle of the day

2. Clothing

  • Clothing is one of the best ways to protect your skin from the sun. When picking clothes:
  • Choose lightweight fabrics and light colours
  • Fabrics with a tight weave (cotton, hemp or linen) give more protection
  • Long sleeves, collars, long trousers or long skirts give greater protection
  • Old, worn or wet clothing may give less protection

3. Sunglasses

Eyes, like skin, are vulnerable to damage from UV rays. Damage from the sun or sunbeds might not been seen or felt but can build up over time. Short-term effects of over-exposure to UV rays include mild irritations such as excessive blinking, swelling or difficulty looking at strong sunlight. Over-exposure can also cause sunburn of the cornea, as in snow blindness or welders’ flash burns.

Over long periods over-exposure to UV rays can result in more serious damage to the eyes, such as cataracts, cancer of the conjunctiva (the membrane covering the white of the eye) and skin cancer of the eyelids and around the eyes.

Always buy sunglasses from a reputable supplier. When choosing sunglasses look for one of the following:

  • ‘CE Mark’ and British Standard (BS EN 1836:1997)
  • UV 400 label
  • 100% UV protection

Sunglasses should cut out 75-90% of visible light. To find out if they are dark enough, stand in front of a mirror – if you can see your eyes easily through the lenses, they probably won’t provide enough protection.

Make sure that the glasses give protection at the side of the eye, for example choose wraparound styles. If you wear corrective lenses ask your optician for advice on UV-protective coating, attachable protective shades or prescription sunglasses.

Children and sunglasses
It’s important to protect children’s eyes. When they are old enough to manage, or have enough nose to perch them on, children should wear sunglasses that meet British Standard. Toy sunglasses are just that – toys – and may not offer adequate protection.

4. Hats

Common sites of skin cancers are the neck, forehead, face, nose and ears. For most of us, these areas are most exposed and receive more UV than other parts of the body. Hats are great for protecting your ears, neck and face – always wear one along with other protection.

Which hat?
Choose a hat you like – you are much more likely to wear it. Your hat should fit both your head and your lifestyle. Hats that blow off easily or hats that interfere with play, whatever the sport, won’t do the job. Hats with fabric you can see through let the UV rays through!

For the best protection, wear broad-brims, but if you prefer a baseball cap, be sure to use a sunscreen, SPF 15+, on your unprotected ears and neck.

Hair is also a natural sunshade. If your hair is thinning, very short or styled into twists, be careful – wear a hat to protect your scalp.

5. Sunscreen

Sunscreen alone will not protect us completely from sun damage. However, they can be useful for protecting the parts of skin we can’t shade or cover. This is why we recommend using sunscreens together with shade or clothing to avoid getting too much UV exposure.