Sun Awareness Month How To Be Safe In The Sun

May 4, 2023 | Body, Health, Skin Care

What Is Sun Awareness Month and Skin Cancer Awareness?

The British Association of Dermatologists ‘Sun Awareness week’ is an annual campaign is to raise awareness of skin cancer. The intention is to provide awareness on prevention and detection of skin cancer.

There is focus on teaching people about the dangers of excessive tanning, sunburn, and the use of sun beds, with associated risks of skin cancer.

Equally, to encourage people to regularly self-examine for signs of lesions that may potentially be skin cancer.

What Damage Can The Sun Sause To The Skin?
Over exposure to sun damages the skin which can cause premature aging with visible fine lines, wrinkles, loss of flaccidity, discolouration and uneven skin tone. More alarmingly it can lead to skin cancer

There are two types of skin cancers, which can be distinguished by their characteristics. Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin, being the more common types of skin cancer. Melanoma is a far less common skin cancer, a dangerous, potentially deadly skin cancer

There are several types of non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Depending on the type of skin cancer, the treatment usually involves surgery to remove the cancer cells.

Early-stage melanomas can often be treated with surgery alone, but more advanced cancers often require other treatments

If you have any lesions on your skin on any part of your body that has changed in characteristic from shape, size, border, colour then seek a medical examination immediately.

What Is Solar Spectrum
It is helpful to understand the different types of radiation from the sun and the effects on the skin. These include ultraviolet, infrared, and blue light.

The solar spectrum consists of:

UVA Light– Penetrates into the dermal layer of the skin, can penetrate even through glass and is present all hours of daylight whether it is warm or not, thus is more damaging. Exposure to the skin causes tanning, premature ageing, allergies and cellular damage.

UVB Light – Penetrates into the epidermal layer of the skin. It is known as the burning sun rays. Exposure to the skin causes tanning, erythema, skin redness and burning.

HEV Light – High Energy Visible light (blue light) is emitted from the sun and your electronic devices such as computers, televisions and mobile phones. It penetrates into the dermal layer of the skin, like UVA rays. Exposure to the skin causes premature ageing and hyperpigmentation. Unlike UVA/UVB rays, HEV is not linked to cancer.

Who Is Affected By Harmful Sun Exposure?
No-one is exempt. If skin is exposed to the sun then damage will occur on some level. Evidence suggests that 35% of people in the UK burnt at least once and up to 3 times during the year.

How To Be Safe In The Sun

Look after your skin, follow these guidelines.

  • Apply SPF to your face, ears, neck daily
  • Apply SPF to exposed skin at all times
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure
  • Ensure you apply a sufficient amount
  • Re apply SPF every 2 to 3 hours
  • Take care with children
  • Seek shade
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Wear protective clothing
  • UV protection clothing is now available
  • Wear a hat
  • Never burn
  • Limit your time in the sun
  • Avoid sun exposure between 11 am to 3pm
  • Avoid sunbeds

What To Look For When Choosing A Sunscreen

When selecting an appropriate sunscreen first you will need to establish the characteristics of your skin and the formula characteristics of the SPF product available to purchase.

Photo Skin Type
The Fitzpatrick scale is a widely used method of identifying skin type relating to the amount of pigment in a person’s skin and tolerance to sun exposure. The spectrum composed of six phototypes include phototype I, a pale skin that always burns, in contrast phototype VI, a dark skin that never burns.

Skin Type
Select an SPF product to suit the amount of sebum your skin naturally produces.  Low sebum production characteristics normal to dry skin, in contrast, high sebum production characteristics oily skin. Combination skin is when the type is distributed by area and there’s a combination of skin types.

What Are SPF’s?
The sun protection factor indicates the degree of protection offered by a specific sunscreen. It does not mean you get protection for a longer time.

Despite the existence of several scales, the most common one is provided by COLIPA, which indicates the proportion of UVB that reaches our skin. The scale goes from SPF 2 (the lowest) to SPF 50+ (the highest). 

In addition, the COLIPA method classifies products into various types or categories. Low photoprotection level is when the SPF ranges between 2 and 6, medium: 8-12, high: 15-25, very high: 30-50 and ultra when it is higher than 50.

What Are The Different Photoprotection Filters?
There are several types of photoprotection filters found in the various sunscreen product formulas. Some sunscreens can contain all three types of photoprotection filters.

Physical Filter – Mineral photoprotection types sit on the surface of the skin to create a barrier that reflects UV rays. Provides instant protection, great to protect kids, the caveat is that they’re usually very thick, white and chalky due to the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide ingredients, and not so popular for the face.

Chemical Filter– Provides protection 30 to 40 minutes after applying to the skin. The damaging rays are absorbed, and a chemical reaction takes place which pushes the damaging rays back out. ‘Chemical’ refers to the reaction of the process. It doesn’t mean it is highly chemically based.

Biological Filter – These are composed of active anti-oxidant and vitamin E ingredients. They do not stop the sun’s rays being absorbed into the skin, however they do act as a body guard to block and protect the skin cells.

Sunscreen contains different chemical compounds of organic, inorganic, natural and/or artificial origin. In this sense, you should pay attention to all the ingredients present in the formula, especially if you have a skin condition or are taking any medication.

Aim to use a formula that has UVA and UVB photoprotection.

Sun protection formulas can be presented in either a cream, gel, spray, stick or water resistant. Select the correct type according to the area of application, the duration of exposure or the activity an individual is going to carry out, such as sports, swimming etc.

Specialised Photo-protection
Not all sunscreens are suitable for all skin types. There are two conditions that usually require more complex sun protection solutions; oily skin and skin presented with hyperpigmentation. In the first case, it’s due to the counterproductive effect of very oily products, and in the second because of the specific care required by this skin type to treat and protect against the hyperpigmentation.

Applying a non-comedogenic sunscreen that does not leave a greasy sensation suits an oily skin type. It’s best to opt for those with a fresh and fluid texture and good spread-ability, or even spray mist or fluid emulsions with mattifying particles.

Take extra care protecting children for sun radiation.

    Contact Angela for a free chat to establish the best photprotection to suit your skin type and condition.

    I highly reccommend the Mesoestetic SPF skincare brand.

    Contact: 07930661971

    Author: Angela Taffinder the founder of Emporium Treatment Clinic. A practising Aesthetician for 35+ years, holistic and wellbeing advocate and yoga instructor.

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