As led by the British Association of Dermatologists, Sun Awareness Week will take place once again this year between 6thand 12thMay. The week was created to raise general awareness of sun damage, and advise us on how to look after ourselves.
How will the sunshine affect my health?
Those of us lucky enough to live in Britain are usually keen to get out in the sun as often as we can. This is more than just a habit – there are many health benefits to getting a little sunshine. For one, exposure to sunlight increases our natural production of Vitamin D, which helps to protect against inflammation and lowers blood pressure. We can also improve our sleep cycles by giving our bodies natural exposure to light and dark – no smartphones.
However, like most things, the sun is to be enjoyed in moderation. To help stay safe in the sun, it’s important to understand how the sun’s rays work.
UVA and UVB rays
The sun’s rays come in two different categories. UVB rays are “short rays” and can be prevented by cloud cover, but they’re also the cause of sunburn. UVA rays make up 95 per cent of the sun’s rays and can penetrate deeper into the skin, causing long-term skin damage. That’s why you should always choose sunglasses and sun cream with protection against both types.
The long-term effects of sun damage
At its most extreme, long-term exposure to the sun without appropriate protection can cause skin cancer. Thankfully, it is one of the most treatable cancers if caught early, though melanoma is more serious than basal and squamous cell skin cancers. You’re particularly more at risk if you have fair skin, lighter coloured eyes or red/blonde hair.
There’s no wrong or right amount of time to spend in the sun – it all comes down to common sense and taking care of yourself, for example avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm, and wearing appropriate clothing. You should also bear these in mind if you want to avoid:
– Fine and coarse wrinkles
– Skin discoloration
– Elastosis – degeneration of collagen fibers
How to enjoy the sun safely
There’s no need to reject that garden party invitation just yet. All you need to do is adjust your wardrobe and adapt your skincare routine! A stylish sunhat, for example, will supplement your sun cream by protecting areas we often neglect, such as your ears and scalp. Pair this with shades offering the abovementioned UVB and UVA protection.
Don’t forget to take care of your lips too – applying factor 50 over the mouth isn’t exactly appealing, so try a lip balm with SPF instead. Keep your clothing light and airy, with limited skin exposure if possible. You can start to burn within 15 minutes, so it’s best to apply your cream 15 minutes before you get dressed, even on cloudy days.
Keeping your skin strong
Collagen fibres, along with keratin, make the skin strong and waterproof. Skin elasticity is also due to the presence of collagen fibers. A daily collagen supplement such as Ellactiva’s Collagen& soft chews can help boost and replenish this vital substance. Simply helping restore and support the body’s health from the inside, whist delivering beauty benefits on the outside. All helping encourage your body to up its natural collagen production and iron out those wrinkles.
Replenish the lost moisturiser in your skin with lots of water. You should also stay hydrated while you’re in the sun, as you may not notice how much you’re sweating outside. Cooling gels such as aloe vera will help to draw the heat out of your burns, and discourage peeling. Above all, take this as a lesson not to skip on the sun cream next time!
Stay safe – know your ABCDEs
There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the benefits of sun exposure responsibly. If your skin is fair and prone to burning however, keep an eye on any moles you have. It’s wise to remember the ABCDE rule when checking your skin:
- A – Asymmetry: check to see if your mole is even on both sides.
- B – Border: uneven borders should not be ignored.
- C – Colour: a variety of colours could be a warning sign.
- D – Diameter: check if it is larger than a rubber on the end of a pencil.
- E – Evolution: changes in shape or size could be a warning sign.
If you notice any of these things, it’s always best to see a doctor. The chances are it’s probably nothing to worry about, but there is no harm in taking care of yourself!
To learn more about Sun Awareness Week, visit http://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/sun-awareness-campaign