Top Tips for Protecting your Skin in the Sun

It’s summertime and we are hoping for plenty of blue skies and sunny days. Whilst out and about enjoying all the fun-in-the-sun activities. Weather you are holiday abroad on at home it is very important to make sure your skin is adequately protected against the sun’s dangerous UV rays. Sunscreen is vital but it’s protective power is limited especially over very long periods of time – this means you need to use more than one method to protect your skin. We have put together some top tips for looking after your skin whilst enjoying a fantastic summer.

  • Stay out of the sun and in the shade during the peak hours of UV radiation, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Ensure that you do not burn your skin.
  • Wear protective clothing:
    • Wide-brimmed hats that protect the face and neck
    • Tightly-woven clothing made of thick material, such as unbleached cotton, polyester, wool, or silk
    • Dark clothing with dyes added that help absorb UV radiation
    • Loose-fitting long-sleeved clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible
  • Wear sunscreen labelled to have a SPF of 30 or higher and a UVA protector of minimum 4 stars, on both cloudy and clear days
  • Apply enough sunscreen: 2 teaspoons if you are just covering your head, arms and neck and 2 tablespoons if you are covering your whole body while wearing a swimming costume. Re-apply after you have been in the water – even if it is “water resistant”
  • Use a lip balm with an SPF factor
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, including lips, ears, back of the hands, and neck.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun, and reapply it every 2 hours and after swimming, exercising, or sweating.
  • Ensure your sunscreen is in date and has not expired.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Be careful when you are on sand, snow, or water, because these surfaces can reflect 85% of the sun’s rays.
  • Avoid artificial sources of UVA radiation, including sunlamps and tanning booths. Like the sun, they can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.

A child’s skin is more sensitive to the sun than an adult’s skin and is more easily burned. Babies younger than 6 months should always be completely shielded from the sun. Children 6 months and older should have their skin protected from too much sun exposure.

What to do if you have been sun burnt?

  1. Sponge any affected areas with cool water then apply an aftersun or soothing calamine lotion.
  2. You can take Ibuprofen or Paracetamol to help ease the pain of sunburn and combat inflammation caused by the sunburn.
  3. Stay out of the sun until the redness has completely gone.
  4. Seek medical care if your skin swells or blisters or if you feel unwell.

It is important to be extra careful in the sun if you:

  • Have freckles, red or fair hair
  • Have a pale skin colour
  • Have a lot of moles
  • burn easily rather than tan
  • have a medical condition that affects your skin
  • take medication that makes your skin sun sensitive
  • have a family history of skin cancer




Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise Incorporated.

NHS Choices