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Avoid sun damaged skin

Some exposure to the sun is important to top up on vitamin D, but over exposure to the sun and sunbed exposure can damage skin.

Sun damage can age your skin before its time and carries serious health risks as well.

Tanning and sunburn put you at a higher risk of cellular damage, premature ageing, age spots and skin cancer, including malignant melanoma, the most serious type.

No matter what your skin colour or type, it is vital to understand the dangers of sun damage. Research links a rise in skin damage and skin cancer in younger adults to frequent sunbathing and use of sunbeds. That's why tanning salons are now banned from allowing under-18s to use their sun beds.

Why is sunburn dangerous?

Sunburn is painful and unattractive, and it typically shows as parched, reddened skin sometimes with oozing blisters. There is no easy treatment, other than keeping the skin hydrated and avoiding more sun.

More than that, sunburned skin is sun-damaged skin, and this damage accumulates over time. Experts estimate that more than 90% of skin cancers are the result of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and sunbeds.

How do I prevent sunburn?

Sun protection products prevent sunburn by protecting your skin against the sun's UV rays. Ultraviolet radiation includes both UVA, which is thought to cause skin ageing and contributes to skin cancer development, and UVB, which is mostly responsible for sunburn and skin cancers.

Because the sun's rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm in the UK, it's advisable to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible during this time and to take care not to burn. When you go outside, protect your skin with clothing and a minimum SPF 15 sun protection product applied regularly.

What is SPF?

The sun protection factor (SPF) in sun protection products is a measure of their ability to prevent burns from sun exposure. To avoid sunburn and sun damage, it's important to choose a sun protection product with the correct SPF. It is advisable to use a product that is a minimum of SPF15 to protect against UVB, and which also protects against UVA (indicated by the star system), even on overcast days to prevent skin damage from the sun.

Which SPF is best for me?

Dermatologists recommend using a sun protection product of SPF15 or higher. If you have fair skin or burn easily, you may need an SPF30 or higher to keep you safe in the sun. Try to use products with a 5 star UVA rating, as these will offer the best protection.

Apply sun protection products on all exposed skin about 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Then reapply at least every two hours.

If you sweat or swim, apply again. Do not be misled by claims that a sunscreen is waterproof. It's always best to reapply to stay safe in the sun. You need to apply sun protection every day, whether it's sunny, cloudy, or freezing cold outside. Women who wear foundation should apply a sunscreen under their makeup even if it claims to contain an SPF.

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