Guide for safe sunbathing

The British Association of Dermatologists published the following information to educate people on the sun and correct selection of the appropriate protective factor and to take steps to avoid burns and harmful UV rays. Properly used, protective agents with various protective factors can significantly protect the human skin from harmful UV radiation.

The dark pigment that gives the skin the natural color is called melanin. Melanin is produced in skin pigment cells called Melanocytes. After our skin is exposed to sunlight, melanocytes produce more melanin in an attempt to absorb further UV radiation, so the skin becomes darker. No one wants to spend the whole summer in the indoor area, and a little sun can be good for us because it helps the body to create vitamin D and to many of us are given a sense of a general well-being while enjoying the summer outdoor activities. However, we sometimes get too much of it which can lead to a number of skin problems that are the most serious skin cancer that can be prevented in more than four to five cases. Other summer skin problems include sunburn and scarring, and sun exposure may also aggravate the symptoms of rosette.


UV radiation of the sun is transmitted to three wavelengths - UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC does not penetrate the Earth's atmosphere so we only need protection from UVA and UVB radiation. UVA-UV radiation is associated with skin aging. UVA affects the elastin in the skin and leads to wrinkles and skin aging caused by sun, also brown pigmentation and skin cancer. UVA can penetrate through the window glass and penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB radiation. UVA sunscreen protection will help protect the skin from aging and potential skin cancer.

UVB is the most UV-resistant form of sunburn and has strong links to malignant melanoma and the risk of basal cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer). Sunscreen creams with a high SPF (sun protection factor) will help prevent UVB and its harmful effects, preventing skin burns and widen the damage that can cause skin cancer.

What is SPF?

Sunscreens in Britain are labeled with "SPF". This implies a "sun protection factor", although more precise, SPF stands for sunburn protection factor because it primarily indicates the level of UVB protection, not the protection from UVA radiation. SPFs are evaluated on a 2-50+ scale based on the level of protection they offer and with ratings of 2 to 14 make the least protected end of the spectrum while 50+ ratings represent the strongest form of UVB protection. Dermatologists recommend sun protection with SPF 30 as a satisfying form of sun protection.


When you buy a sunscreen with UVA protection in the UK, you will notice the UVA star on its packaging. The stars range from 0 to 5 and indicate the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by sunscreen compared to UVB, ie the ratio between the level of protection provided by UVA protection and UVB protection.

Be aware that if you choose low SPF, you may still have a high level of asterisks, but not because it provides a lot of UVA protection, but because the ratio between UVA and UVB protection is roughly the same.

Therefore, it is important to choose high a SPF as well as high UVA protection. Sunscreen with SPF 30 and UVA of 4 or 5 stars is generally considered to be good sun protection.

Labels on sunscreen

In order to comply with EU recommendations, sunscreen manufacturers must label their products in the UK in this way:

Low protection

6 to 14 (ie SPF 6 and 10)

Medium protection

15 to 29 (ie SPF 15, 20 and 25)

High protection

30 to 50 (ie SPF 30 and 50)

Very high protection

50 + (ie SPF 50+)

According to the EU recommendation, the UVA protection for each sunscreen should be at least a third of the SPF mark. The product that meets this requirement will be labeled with the UVA logo, in the letter "UVA" printed in the circle.

What is Photo stability?

You should also check if your chosen sunscreen is photostable. 'Photo stability' means that the filters do not disintegrate in the sun.

Application of protective agents

Some sunscreen products offer 8-ozone protection from just one application. But it is important to know that most of us do not apply sunscreen in a convenient way. Often, we apply too little and tend to miss parts of difficulty such as back. We also often overlook the factors that cause accidental and premature removal of sunscreen products. Exposure to water or sweat can remove sun protection from the skin surface and leave it exposed. It is therefore recommended to re-apply the protective agent after several hours to ensure sufficient protection.

Studies have shown that most people use less than half the required amount to ensure the level of protection specified on the packaging. Areas such as the back, the neck and the area behind the ears are usually not well enough protected.

Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sunbathing, and then again shortly after you leave the open area to cover the missed parts and be sure to apply a good layer. Re-apply it at least every 2 hours and immediately after bathing and drying with a towel.

'Water Resistance' has been tested with the capability of sunscreen to maintain sunscreen properties after two 20 minute intervals (40 minutes total) of moderate water activity. However, up to 85 percent of the product can be removed by drying the towel, thus it has to be re-applied after bathing, sweating or other activity.

Vitamin D

UV radiation from sun and lying on the beach can increase the risk of skin cancer. However, sunlight also helps the skin in vitamin D production.

Lack of vitamin D can cause some people's health problems. There is good evidence that vitamin D helps to maintain bone health. It is also suggested that vitamin D can help in the prevention of serious illnesses such as cancer, various forms of arthritis and autoimmune diseases. This is an area of ​​considerable research, as there are a lot of issues that still need to be answered, including a sufficient number of sunlight on the skin to reduce the risk of developing these diseases. On the other hand, the link between skin and sun cancer has been proven and well-documented. It is not possible to determine the precise level of exposure to sunlight that will provide vitamin D because there are many variables such as personal skin type, geographic position, time of day, time conditions, and many more.

It is therefore difficult to determine the amount of time it takes to damage the skin as needed for each individual to achieve optimum amounts of vitamin D or to combine them further and to determine a safe level of sun exposure.

However, we know that when your body once produces the highest vitamin D level, additional sunlight does not increase production and does not cause skin damage.

Dermatologists do not recommend deliberately sun exposure as a safe way to get vitamin D.

Small amounts of random sunlight, which you get during your daily activities, can help increase your vitamin D. Only exposure to the face and forearms of the sun should be enough.

However, if you have a high risk of skin cancer, you should protect the skin in the sun and look for as much vitamin D as possible from other sources such as diet and nutritional supplements.

High risk includes:

People with very light skin that burns easily
People with personal or family history of skin cancer
People with lots of mole
Usage of immunosuppressive medicines

Dermatologists and other experts carry out numerous researches on the role of vitamin D in disease prevention. Vitamin D rich foods include, for example, certain yogurts and grains, and fatty fish. You can also take vitamins supplements containing vitamin D such as multivitamins or cod liver oil. Keep in mind that your skin will produce enough vitamin D before it begins to darken.

Skin types

The skin type will determine how much sun will affect people and leave burns.

Natural biological agents in the skin absorb the UV radiation, melanin is one of them. Melanin is a pigment molecule in the skin and differentients in people of different ethnic origin.

Dermatologists generally share skin types in six categories, from phototypes 1 - skin that burns easily in the sun and is not dark to phototype up to 6 which is very dark and does not burn easily.

Darker people have more natural sun protection, while lighter are more sensitive to sunlight, skin cancer and skin damage than others.

Usually those who easily burn in the sun are most vulnerable to skin cancer. Studies have shown that a high risk of skin cancer also belongs to those with lots of mole and scurvy. But even those with more numbers and darker skin should not take the sun too lightly. Darker people also need protection of skin and eyes, mostly because dark skin changes tend to appear.

Tips on safety in the sun

Protect your skin with clothing, including a hat, t-shirt, and sunglasses
Spend time in the shade between 11 and 15 hours when the sun is the strongest
Use a "high-protection" protective cream of at least SPF 30 which also has a high UVA protection and make sure it is applied in a sufficient layer, more often, when in the sun.
Keep babies and toddlers away from direct sunlight
Tell your doctor about any changes in moles on the face or body

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