Sunscreen: Your Summer Beauty Essential | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Sunscreen: Your Summer Beauty Essential

Life&Style writer Sophie Webb explains why sunscreen is so important and why it should be everyone's top summer essential

Everyone loves the sun. Cursed as we are by England’s notoriously dull weather, we Brits leap at the first opportunity to don our shorts and strappy t-shirts and follow the well overused saying ‘suns out, guns out’. However, what many don’t stop to consider is whether or not we should be wearing sun cream.

The desire for a tan, and the myth that sun cream is something only overprotective parents try to unnecessarily force upon us as children leads to many people exposing themselves to dangerous levels of UV without any form of protection.

Johnathon Major, spokesman for the British Association of Dermatologists explained “This is a reflection of poor sun protection habits – people underestimate the damage that sunburn can do to their skin, and many think that skin reddening is just a harmless part of the tanning process, rather than a sure sign that you have damaged your skin irreparably.” 

'This is a reflection of poor sun protection habits – people underestimate the damage that sunburn can do to their skin'

It has long been known that over exposure to sun dramatically increases the risk of developing skin cancer, along with other less serious but undoubtedly unpleasant illnesses such as sun stroke and heat stroke. The fact that understanding the sun is a big problem in the UK is reflected by skin cancer being the most common form of cancer in the UK, with over 100,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. A staggering 2,500 people die from it each year, that’s seven people per day, and these numbers continue to rise as people remain uninformed about the risks of the sun. This death rate is over a third higher than it is in Australia, something which the Daily Mail put down to purely the ignorance of the British when it comes to sun safety.

Experts advise that we should check for signs of skin cancer on a monthly basis, however research has shown that 96% of people fail to do this, with 77% not even sure what skin cancer looks like. Signs of skin cancer can be a variety of things from marks or lumps that increase in size, to red, inflamed, or scaly patches of skin. As with any cancer, early detection is key to successful treatment and therefore doctors are encouraging people to be safe and get checked out if they spot any irregularities. 

A staggering 2,500 people die from skin cancer each year, that’s seven people per day

Wearing sun cream is one way to lower your risk if you are out in the sun for prolonged periods of time, but it doesn’t stop there. Getting the right factor of sun cream is also essential and ensuring that the brand is waterproof if you’re intending on making the most of the weather at the beach. Timing is also vital for the correct use of sun cream, and is something that many people either don’t realise or forget. It should be applied not while in the sun but 20 to 30 minutes before going out in order to give the skin time to absorb it. It should then be reapplied at least every two hours and in generous amounts in order to maintain the levels of protection promised on the bottle. It only takes ten minutes of strong sunshine to burn pale skin and therefore knowing the correct use of sun cream is extremely important when trying to avoid danger.

A good sun hat is also highly recommended by professionals as not only does it keep down your temperature, helping to prevent heat stroke, it also protects the face which is a common area for skin cancer to occur. Other simple tips include staying in the shade as much as possible, and avoiding the mid-day sun which is when the UV is at its strongest (between 11am and 3pm).


12th June 2017 at 9:00 am

Last Updated

11th June 2017 at 9:12 pm

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