It’s time to dust off the bathers and un-retire the summer wardrobe from your closet, because sunny weather is fast approaching (yay!). But while the excitement of being able to replace scarf, jacket and gloves with singlets, shorts and sunnies is brewing, there’s something we all need to keep at the front of our minds: staying sun-smart.
Your skin will stay healthy and vibrant if you take the proper precautions when the UV is out in full-force. Here are our top tips to stay protected.
1. Obey the 5 S’s
Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide.
That is, Slip on clothing, Slop on SPF30 or higher sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Seek shade and Slide on sunnies.
Essentially, aim to have something in between you and the sun at all times. A t-shirt will provide better protection than a singlet, for example. Where skin is showing (and no shade is available), apply sunscreen that’s at least SPF30 and remember to apply regularly.
Ok, but what exactly is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The higher a sunscreen’s SPF, the more UVB radiation it filters. Sunscreens labelled ‘broad-spectrum’ are also protective against UVA.
Properly applied, SPF30 sunscreens filter out 96.7% of UVB, while SPF50 filters out 98%. Most types of sunscreen must be reapplied every two hours to maintain the optimum level of protection, however it’s best to always read the label and use as directed as it may change.
When sunlight hits the Earth’s surface, it does so via three bands of Ultraviolet radiation; UVA, UVB and UVC.
- UVA (Ultraviolet A) rays are ‘long-wave’ and penetrate deep into your skin’s inner layer, known as the UVA rays can lead to longer-term skin issues such as wrinkles, sun spots and ageing.
- UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays are ‘short-wave’ and affect the outer layers of your skin. These cause sunburn, and are a common cause of skin cancers.
- UVC (Ultraviolet C) rays are actually the most dangerous rays, but thankfully our ozone layer stops them from penetrating through to us.
2. Watch the clock
Did you know UV rays are at their worst between 10am and 3pm? Give yourself the best chance to avoid skin damage from the sun by staying in the shade between these times.
We’re not saying you need to stay inside though! Find a café, restaurant or ice cream shop with a covered outdoor area and enjoy the weather while staying protected.
3. Apply sunscreen before getting dressed
Applying when you’re already wearing clothes can make it difficult to know for certain you’ve covered everywhere. When you ‘Slap’ prior to dressing, all of the areas you need to get are much more easily-accessible.
An added bonus of doing this is you give the sunscreen more of a chance to ‘seep in’ to your skin and provide better protection. Ideally, you really need to around 20 minutes or more between application and heading out into the sun.
4. Be aware of UV’s sneakiness
Oh look, it’s a cloudy day. That means you’re fine and don’t need any sun protection, right? Sure, if you want to end up looking like an over-cooked lobster! UV rays can pass through clouds and still damage your skin, possibly even more so than clear skies due to the clouds’ reflection[i].
So, even when there’s cloud cover, make sure you obey the 5 S’s if you’re heading outside.
5. Understand what a tan really is
Think a tan is healthy? Think again! When sunbathing, you’re purposefully damaging your skin’s DNA. The tan colour is your skin’s defence mechanism to prevent any further damage from happening while simultaneously repairing itself.
6. Visit your TerryWhite Chemmart
Head into your nearest TerryWhite Chemmart and speak with the friendly staff – they can advise you which sunscreen is suitable for you and your needs.