Safe sunning: Five things you should know before the holidays

We all know that sun exposure can be harmful for us and can, in rare cases, lead to skin cancer.

But if you strike a balance between enjoying the blissful sunshine and cutting your risk factors, you can prevent this damage.

Before you can think about taking the necessary steps, it is important to spot the common myths about skincare in the sun.


1. Apply your sun cream when you arrive at the beach or pool

Incorrect. The chemical filters which sunscreens contain take at least 20 minutes to react with the skin and become totally effective.

Therefore, it’s important to allow the recommended time for them to take effect before exposing yourself to the sun, by smothering yourself in cream before you leave the house.

2. You don't need to worry once you have a tan

It can't be denied that dark skin is more resistant to the sun's rays and doesn't suffer from so-called heat rash or sunburn, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suffer from the harmful effects of the sun's rays.

The price that even those with olive skin pay for years of excessive exposure to the sun is deep wrinkles, sun spots and a rugged open-pored complexion, meaning that they can't afford not to protect themselves, even though they may not burn.

3. Use sun cream sparingly

The clinical tests carried out to calculate the protection factor of sunscreens are based on 2mg of cream per cubic centimetre of skin. That's an awful lot.

If you don't do the same, you will not obtain the level of protection your product claims to provide. That's why you must apply a generous coating. Remember: a thin layer will not suffice.

4. Only apply sun cream once

Lie down on your towel, cover yourself with cream from head to toe and….that's it! No need to think about it for the rest of the day. Wrong! You should reapply sun screen every two hours or after each swim.

Sweat, water, sand, towels and clothes rub off sunscreen, and, in addition, the sun's rays cause it to deteriorate, making it less effective. So, to avoid unpleasant surprises, it pays to reapply.

5. Throwing on a cover-up allows you to skip wearing sunscreen

Hitting the beach in a light-colored long-sleeve tee is certainly better than baring your arms and torso to the sun. But the truth is, the typical thin white t-shirt — the kind you'd wear on a hot day — has an SPF of only 7.

This means that UV rays will start to pass through it to your skin in about 70 minutes.

An SPF tip: It takes a fair-skinned person about 10 minutes to get burned without protection in the midday sun; multiplying this number by the SPF number of the garment or sunscreen tells you how long it'll take before burning begins.