Being out in the sun can be a lot of fun. Walking along a gorgeous beach, hiking high up in the hills. But while the sun can bring a lot of enjoyment for us, we also know it has its dangers as well. When out and about in the sun it's important to consider wearing a hat or keeping out of the sun during the middle of the day. Choosing the right suntan lotion is key to staying sun safe. You need to think about how long you will be exposed and pick the right sun cream accordingly. If you require multiple daily applications, go for the biggest bottle. If you have sensitive skin then pick sun lotion that has higher SPF protection, like SPF50.
Sun protection is commonly known as Sunscreen, sunblock or suntan lotion is a cream, gel, liquid or spray applied to the skin to prevent damage to the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light. Sun protection may also be other means of protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, like covering exposed skin during the day, wearing a hat and avoiding the midday sun.
No doubt you have all been out in the sun before and not put on some sunscreen, only to find out later you’ve got a sunburn, I know I foolishly have!
There are two types of UV light, UVA and UVB. It is UVB light that is responsible for the burning and reddening of your skin, whilst UVA light is associated with damage deep down in your skin which leads to leathery, wrinkled skin and the development of skin cancers like melanoma and carcinoma.
Sunscreen works by reflecting or absorbing UV light which will then reduce damage to your skin from prolonged sun exposure.
I’m sure you’ve all seen a bottle of sunscreen before and seen the ratings on the bottle. In the UK these ratings are stars and they show out of 5 how effective the product is at blocking the effects of UVA light which causes the hidden damage you won’t see day-to-day. Always make sure you buy a product that has a minimum of 4 star UVA rating. Thankfully Travelpharm only sells sunscreens with a 4* rating!
This is where the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) comes in!
An SPF rating indicated how effective the product is at managing UVB light which causes skin reddening and ultimately sunburn. A high SPF like SPF50 is the strongest, whilst SPF2 is the lowest. Travelpharm, along with many other leading organisations, wouldn’t recommend a sunscreen with an SPF rating of less than SPF30.
A quick recap to help you remember how Sunscreen work and the type of UV light:
UVA – causes Aging. 5-star rating to show how effective the product is at absorbing/reflecting UVA light. Always buy 4 stars or higher.
UVB – causes Burning. SPF rating to indicate how long the product will protect you from harmful UVB light. Always buy SPF30 or higher. Does Sunscreen stop you from tanning?
The all-important question! The answer is No! Sunscreen will NOT stop you from tanning.
To understand this we have to first understand why we tan when exposed to sunlight.
Why do you get a tan when exposed to the Sun?
Tanning is an unfortunate outcome caused by exposure to UV light, ie the sun. This exposure causes the body to deposit a dark pigment, known as melanin to try to prevent further damage to the skin and over the proceeding days, the skin will darken.
So you can see that a tan is not healthy but exposure to the sun for short periods of time can be a good thing, in fact vitally important.
Well, no sunscreen is 100% effective at filtering out UV light meaning your skin will always be exposed to some UV light even if you use SPF50. This means you will still be able to get a tan even if using high SPF sunscreens. All the SPF rating means, is how long you can spend in the sun before you burn. You will still be exposed to UV light whilst out in the sun so you will develop a tan but in a much gentler and safer way.
If you want to read more our friends at the NHS have put together a great guide on Sunscreens and Sun Safety,
It is important to note that no tan is a safe tan as the tan is produced as a result of damage to your skin. A “good” tan will not protect your skin from UV light. Always wear sunscreen!