6 Tips to Enjoy the Sun Safely

As many of my international friends have recently observed with amusement, Brits do tend to go a bit overboard at the first sight of any sunshine – especially after the wettest winter on record. It doesn’t matter if it’s not actually warm enough, the sunnies, shorts and dresses come out and the jumpers and coats are gone. Any small patch of grass, long abandoned over the winter months, is suddenly transformed into a seething mass of people making the most of the weather – particularly students. However it is important to remember that the sun can burn at any time of the year, regardless of temperature. As we move into the warmer months, here is my guide to staying safe in the sunshine.

• Avoid being outside in the sun during the peak hours of 11am and 2pm, particularly in warmer weather. If not, stick to the shade where possible during these hours.
• Stay covered up. Hats, umbrellas, light & cool jackets will protect your skin. Lightweight and light-coloured clothes will keep you cool.
• Sun cream is a must, the stronger the better! As a general rule, you should use SPF 30 as a minimum but preferably use higher. Make sure you reapply every couple of hours, particularly after water exposure – even if it is labelled waterproof – and use Vaseline or lip balm on lips. Make sure you buy sun screen that protects against UVA and AVB, and check for standard marks to ensure it will work.
• If you have thin hair, you can even buy special sun screen for the top of your head so you don’t need a hat. Remember to cover the hard-to-reach areas like the back of your knees, back of your neck, back of your ears and elbows. Oh, and even your feet!
• Avoid lying in the sun for prolonged periods at a time. You may want a tan, but this is very damaging to your skin. It is better to build up a tan gradually over time with frequent but limited exposure.
• If you do get burnt: come out of the sun immediately and seek shade. Apply an after sun lotion or moisturiser to soothe the skin. Aloe Vera works wonders on burnt skin, so look for it when choosing a cream. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and take ibuprofen to ease the discomfort. Importantly, avoid further sun exposure until it settles down – burnt skin is damaged and so any further sunshine will cause further damage.

Enjoy the sunshine (now, and during Spring/Summer) on the rare occasions it makes an appearance in this country but please do it safely!

Written by David Heffer