We all love to be out in the sun, it’s pretty much ingrained in our Australian heritage and an integral part of our Aussie identity; we love our sunburnt country after all.
Research has also linked sun exposure to happiness and improved mood, so it’s all the more important for us to get out into the great outdoors¹. Yet, we can’t ignore the potential harm that sun damage can bring to our skin and the potential risk of skin cancers from too much sun exposure. So how can we soak in the benefits of the sun, whilst still protecting ourselves from harm? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 tips on how to avoid sun damage to your skin.
Tip 1: Be UV Smart
The UV index is an indication of the strength of sunburn producing ultraviolet (UV) radiation at a particular place and time.; the higher the number, the stronger the UV radiation. Wearing sunscreen everyday is recommended to avoid sun damage however on days where the UV index is 3 or above, sun protection is a must. At levels of 3 or above, UV radiation can damage your skin and lead to skin cancer. UV levels are not constant, nor can they be judged by how sunny or hot it is. So using an app such as the SunSmart app is an easy way to keep an eye on UV levels and plan not just your sun protection accordingly, but also the right time to go outside for an extended period. Generally speaking, sun protection is a must between 10am-4pm and it’s best to avoid being in the sun during solar noon when UV levels is at its highest.
Tip 2: Always Use Sunscreen Correctly
Sunscreen is one of the best ways to help protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, including premature ageing and skin cancers. Applying a good quality SPF50+ Sunscreen is a must at every point in the year, but especially during summer. Make sure to apply 1 teaspoon to each limb as well as a half-teaspoon each to the face, neck, and ears. Reapply every 2 hours, or as indicated on the label, as well as after swimming, sweating, and towel drying for maximum efficacy.
Commonly Missed Areas
Even those of us who think we are being diligent about applying SPF may be making the mistake of missing important areas of the face and body and getting sun damage despite our best efforts². Some commonly missed areas of the body are the bridge of the nose, the ears, the upper back and shoulders, and the feet, so take extra care when slathering on the lotion to hit every bit of exposed skin². Get a friend to help for those harder to reach areas!
Tip 3: Dress to Impress
It’s important to remember that just because you’ve applied sunscreen doesn’t mean you have a free pass to spend all day in the sun. Sunscreen is a great protective measure, but you should also utilise other forms of physical defence including a wide brimmed hat, long sleeved clothing and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes when outdoors for extended periods. Keep in mind a wide brimmed hat should have at least a 7.5 cm brim to provide adequate protection and clothing should be tightly knit to keep harmful UV rays off the skin. While it may seem like overkill, you will look absolutely fabulous in your fashionable, floppy sunhat and big sunnies, while lowering your risk of developing skin or eye damage.
Tip 4: Seek The Shade. Keep it Cool
Those of us who were raised as sun-seekers might cringe at the idea of heading to the beach only to spend the day under a beach umbrella, but seeking shade, particularly during peak UV hours (10am-4pm) is critical to protecting you skin from sun damage and premature ageing. However, keep in mind that just because you are in the shade does not mean you’re impervious to UV radiation. While shade will protect you from the majority of sun from overhead, many people don’t account for the UV rays that are bounced back from the surroundings, particularly from water and sand, so don’t rely on shade alone to provide full protection.
Tip 5: Give Your Skin Some Tender Loving Care
There are also those times when we seem to get sunburnt despite our best efforts. That’s okay, we can still minimise the pain and how long the burn sticks around for. We suggest some after-sun products that help to soothe and hydrate the skin.