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It’s time for Sun Awareness Week 2019 (6-12th May). Did you know that the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) found that 84% dermatologists think people in the UK have an unhealthy relationship with tanning? As a result of this study, skin specialists are pessimistic about attitudes towards tanning and sunbathing.
Previous surveys conducted by BAD for sun awareness suggest that although people in the UK are aware of the risks of excessive sun exposure, there’s little evidence to suggest that social behaviour has changed. Skin cancer rates continue to rise, making it the most common cancer in the UK. Each year over 230,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK.
What’s causing the increase? Social and cultural issues play a part, like more affordable holidays abroad, sunbed use, and attitudes towards tanned skin. Research from a 2013 study by the Centre for Health Psychology at Staffordshire University highlighted that 80% of women felt that a tan looked good and 71% felt that tanned people look healthy.
Malignant melanoma is now the most common form of cancer in women under 20 so it’s important to realise how harmful tanning and sunbathing is. It’s seriously harming our skin.
UV (ultraviolet) is responsible for DNA damage. Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) have a long wavelength and make up 95% of all UV radiation penetrating our skin. They have a major role in skin ageing and wrinkles. Although less intense that UVB rays, UVA rays are up to 50 times more prevalent and can get through windows and clouds. In addition, UVA contributes to the development of skin cancers.
According to Charlotte Cho, founder of Soko Glam and author of The Little Book of Skin Care, UVB rays have a shorter wavelength than UVA rays but penetrate the skin more superficially. She adds, “UVB is the main cause of skin cancer.”
‘The high-pressure sunlamps used in tanning salons emit doses of UVA as much as 12 times that of the sun. Not surprisingly, people who use tanning salons are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.’ – SkinCancer.org
The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer states that UV radiation from the sun and sunbeds is carcinogenic. It’s alarming that sunbeds give you 10 times the amount of UV rays you’d get in the middle of the day in a hot country.
In addition, if you use sunbeds before you’re 35, you’re at risk of getting skin cancer by 59%. If you’re a regular sunbed user under 30, you may want to reconsider your habit. Did you know you raise your risk of developing skin cancer by 75% if you regularly visit a tanning salon?
In a word, no. Charlotte Cho says, “Still, the sun is not our friend, and there’s actually no such thing as ‘healthy’ glow because it can actually damage the skin, increase your risk of cancer, and age your skin prematurely.” According to SkinCancer.org, if you use a sun bed before the age of 35, you increase your risk for melanoma by 75%.
Apply a generous layer of sun cream at least 15 minutes before we go outside. We should wear the equivalent of a shot glass (two tablespoons) of sun cream to the exposed parts of the face and body.
‘Sunscreen is the real deal. Not to be dramatic, but it can keep you looking years younger and, when it comes to skin cancer, can save your life.’ – The Little Book of Skin Care
As a general rule, it’s advisable to incorporate sun cream in your morning routine, after a moisturiser. Charlotte Cho says, “It’s important to put [sun cream] this on last so it can fully shield your skin from UV rays without being diluted by prior products.”
Don’t forget to check expiry dates of your sun cream if you’ve had it for a while. If you’re searching for a sun cream that’s easily to layer under make up, the Neogen Day-Light Protection Sunscreen SPF 50/PA+++ is perfect. Reapply your sun cream every two hours and immediately after swimming, sweating or using a towel.
Stay in the shade when UV rays are at their strongest, which is between 10am-4pm. According to National Program for Playground Safety, limiting your time in the sun during these times can reduce your sun exposure by 60%.
Of course, it isn’t always practical to avoid the sun, particularly if you’re on holiday, so wearing sun cream of at least SPF 30 is essential to protect your skin. While seeking the shade is advisable, remember the sun’s harmful UV rays can still penetrate through trees and it’s still important to apply your sun screen as normal.
In addition to using sun cream, UV and UPF clothing is a stylish way to protect your skin from the sun’s harsh UV rays. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor and because a wide range of UPF clothing and accessories are available it’s never been easier to look after our skin.
Uniqlo sells UV clothing, and you’ll all also find a fantastic selection at Coolibar. A UPF hat is an ideal way to shield your face and neck. The delicate skin on our hands is vital to protect and luckily Coolibar sells UPF gloves. Need to shield your face when you’re out and about? UV and UPF umbrellas are definitely worth buying! A UPF parasol is the perfect addition to your next beach holiday.
Don’t forget to protect your eyes with sunglasses that block out 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
If you want to find out more about why sun cream is so popular in South Korea, check out my blog post on my trip to Neogen HQ!
Main photo courtesy of Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash; second photo courtesy of Jens Kreuter on Unsplash