The weather has been really weird this past few months and thinking about that has prompted this post. One minute it's sunny, the next it's raining, the next it's windy and overcast, so it's easy to forget that the sun is at its hottest at this time of year. It always reminds me of what I've read about Tenerife - it may not be sunny but the UV rays still get through (though the one time I was in Tenerife it was gorgeous and sunny).
So at the risk of teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs, I thought I'd share five tips for keeping your cool under the rays - or in other words how to practise safe sun.
1) Stay out of the sun when it is at its highest, so from around noon until 3pm, and keep babies and young children out of the sun altogether.
2) Wear loose clothing that's made of a close weave fabric, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and wear a hat. Your sunglasses should be 100% UV absorbing, fit well and give good coverage all round, so limiting as much as possible the amount of light reaching your eyes. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause irreversible damage, leading to cataracts or macular degeneration. According to David Cartwright, optician expert for Boots: "The majority of UV damage is caused before the age of 18 as more UV rays pass through the lens, so you need to protect against this."
3) Slap on the sunscreen. It's not enough to apply it once outside, for best effect you need to apply it 30 minutes before stepping out the door. Then you need to regularly reapply it, especially if you're in and out of water. Most people don’t apply enough and even the highest SPF factor won’t be able to do its job properly if inadequately applied. "You should worry about wearing enough sunscreen, rather than how high the SPF is," says Charlotte Vohtz, founder of natural skincare company Green People. "To get the SPF advertised use a full shot glass (30ml) to cover the whole body."
4) Fake it! False tan has come so far over the past few years that you won't look orange if you choose a good quality product and apply it correctly, or you could treat yourself to a salon tan for a totally professional finish. As with sunscreens, there's a good range of tanning products that contain natural ingredients, such as Melvita ProSun Gradual Self-Tanning Gel-Cream, which develops over a couple of days to give a golden glow, Green People Self Tan Lotion, containing organic rosehip, sandalwood and geranium, or Lavera Sun Sensitive Natural and Organic Self Tanning Lotion with jojoba and macadamia nut oils. For immediate satisfaction The Body Shop does a Honey Bronze Shimmering Dry Oil that gives colour immediately (though you wouldn't want to wear that in the swimming pool).
5) Finally, just to confuse matters, make sure you get outside into the sun every day, sunscreen-free. What? I hear you say. Doesn't that go against everything you've just said? Well... as long as you don't do it during the hottest part of the day you should be okay, says the National Osteoporosis Society. It's all about vitamin D you see. We need vitamin D to help keep our bones strong and the best source of the nutrient is sunshine - and according to the National Osteoporosis Society just 10 minutes per day outdoors over the summer should be enough to keep our levels of this sunshine vitamin topped up year round.
And just a few more words on the subject of vitamin D: If your shadow is shorter than you then the sun is at the right angle to product vitamin D and you need to be outside to benefit as your body cannot produce vitamin D through windows. (National Osteoporosis Society Sunlight Campaign).