10 top sun care tips
The sun is like a magnet; when it appears through the clouds, we gather outdoors, crack open the BBQs and fill up the paddling pools to make the most of it (after all, it doesn’t tend to last very long in the UK).
But if you’re jetting off somewhere sunny, chances are you’ll be out enjoying the sun all day every day.
Although there’s nothing better than basking in the heat, you’ll be exposed to harmful UV rays which can damage your skin if you don’t protect it.
In this guide, we’ll give you 10 top tips for staying safe in the sun - because sunburn and heat exhaustion aren’t very fun.
Apply sunscreen every single day
You might think if it’s cloudy or rainy outside that you don’t need to apply sunscreen, but this isn’t the case.
Ultraviolet rays are always present (even when it isn’t sunny!) and they can cause skin damage like wrinkles, age spots, and leathery skin.
This damage puts you at a higher risk of developing skin cancer further down the line.
If the thought of applying thick, greasy sunscreen to your face and exposed areas every day makes you cringe, don’t worry.
Many brands like Heliocare offer lightweight, oil-free sun cream that won’t cause acne or yellow your clothes - and they contain just as much protection.
You can also get sun protection in moisturisers and makeup, like your foundation or concealer.
You may believe that your SPF 15 sunscreen is enough to prevent skin damage, and although it’s certainly better than nothing at all, you should choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
There are two types of UV rays that you should protect yourself from - UVA and UVB.
When buying your sunscreen, look for the UVA star rating; this should be no less than 4.
It’s a good idea to choose sunscreen based on your activities and the wearer, such as a baby or a child.
If you’re going to the beach, the pool, or partaking in water-related activities, choosing a sunscreen that’s water-resistant is vital.
Not only will it repel the water and stick to the skin better, but it can prevent you from reapplying it as often as a regular variety.
If you have excited, wriggling, running children who are desperate to get outside, a spray sunscreen might make it easier for you to apply.
You should choose higher protection for babies and young children as their skin is delicate, like SPF 50.
If you have oily, acne-prone skin, it’s important to choose a sunscreen expertly formulated for the face.
You’ll want to look for one that’s non-comedogenic and oil-free, so it won’t block your pores and increase shine.
Reapply, reapply, reapply
Apply sunscreen liberally and often if you’re spending time in the sun.
You should reapply sunscreen after being in the water, if you’ve been sweating or if you’ve rubbed it off, like drying yourself with a towel.
If you’re just sunbathing or walking around, you should still reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours to give yourself as much protection as possible.
If you’re unlucky enough to get sunburn, the best treatment to soothe your stinging skin is aftersun lotion, which are typically infused with calming ingredients like aloe vera.
Keep it fresh
You wouldn’t eat an expired piece of meat, so why would you use an expired bottle of sunscreen?
Sunscreen usually lasts for at least 3 years before it goes bad, and after this time, it becomes less effective at blocking UV rays, increasing your chances of getting sunburn or skin cancer.
However, if your bottle is less than 3 years old but it’s been left in a hot car for a couple of months, it probably won’t be very effective, either.
If you use a sunscreen that’s gone bad, not only will it not protect you, but the expired chemicals may irritate your skin.
To get the most out of your sunscreen, keep it in a cool, dark place.
The floor isn’t lava
But it may feel like it, especially when you’re hopping along the scorching hot sand or pavement to get to the sea or your sunbed.
The soles of your feet can get burned, too, and the results are uncomfortable - imagine the constant contact when walking with stinging, blistered skin - ouch!
Not only should you apply sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of your feet, but you should ensure that you wear foot protection, like easy to slip on flip-flops, when you’re walking about in the heat.
Don’t make excuses
The sun’s harmful rays won’t fall for any excuses.
Whatever it is - your suitcase space is limited, you don’t want to ruin your clothes, you don’t want to break out your skin, or maybe you have darker skin and aren’t prone to sunburn.
There are solutions and answers to all of these excuses, and the risks of not wearing sun protection outweigh them.
If you’re limited to suitcase space, no problem - there’s plenty of shops when you arrive at your destination that will be stocked up on a wide selection of sunscreens.
Or maybe you’re worried about the unsightly stains on your clothes.
Look for a sunscreen that doesn’t contain avobenzone, a chemical found in many sun protection products that react with water, or something damp like sweat, causing a yellowish stain.
If you have acne-prone skin, a greasy or oily sunscreen might be your worst nightmare, but you have other options like trying a non-comedogenic, oil-free sunscreen that will give you the ultimate protection without reacting with your skin.
If you have a darker skin tone, you will be less likely to burn, but you can still get UV damage if your skin is not protected with sunscreen, putting you at a higher risk of premature aging and developing skin cancer.
Sun accessories are your best friend
Not only are they stylish, but certain accessories can protect you against the sun’s dangerous rays.
A hat, like a cap or a wide-brimmed sun hat, can protect your scalp, in addition to shading your face, chest, and shoulders.
Invest in some sunglasses that will protect your eyes against UV rays - they can also stop you from squinting away from the sun’s brightness during the day.
An umbrella isn’t just to protect you against the rain, but it can provide shade, too.
You can get large, static umbrellas to shade you when you’re by the pool, or you can opt for a parasol to keep you cool and protected when you’re on the go.
Laying around in the heat all day might be enjoyable, but it’s important to stay cool to avoid coming down with heat exhaustion or sunstroke.
If there’s no breeze keeping you cool, bring your own - there are fans that connect to a port in your phone, battery-operated options, and even ones that give you a refreshing spray of mist with each rotation.
Dip your feet into the pool to cool off or place a cold, damp flannel on your forehead.
It’s important to stay hydrated - drink plenty of cold fluids throughout the day, and you could treat yourself to an ice-cold snack like an ice-lolly or ice cream.
Keep your baby shady
When it’s hot, babies can become unwell as their skin is delicate and their bodies are unable to regulate heat as well as adults.
Babies should be kept out of direct sunlight and should be wearing an SPF of at least 30, in addition to wearing a sunhat to protect their head and neck.
You can also get sun shelters or tents for your baby if there isn’t any shade available.
When you’re sitting in a cocktail bar or beer garden, it can be tempting to try a fruity, summertime cocktail or a refreshing ice-cold beer, but they’re probably not providing you with the hydration your body needs when it’s hot outside.
Now, we’re not here to spoil the fun - but consider ordering water alongside your drink, or alternate between an alcoholic beverage and water.
We produce more sweat when it’s hot to cool ourselves down, but this causes us to lose an excessive amount of water that our body needs to function as it should.
So, if you want to make the most out of the hot weather, it’s important to stay hydrated.
Now you should be ready and raring to go and have some fun in the sun - but keep these helpful tips in mind to ensure that you and your family stay safe.
If you need any more information about sun safety, visit the NHS website.