Have you seen that great big ball of bright yellow brilliance in the sky at the moment? Us too! Isn’t it wonderful to feel the sun on your skin and a spring in your step? The birds are singing, there’s a host of golden daffodils wherever you look, and despite us all wearing masks, you can sense people smiling underneath.
Well, hello, sunshine!
As well as being an undeniable mood-lifter, exposure to the sun has numerous other benefits. It delivers powerful UVB rays straight to your skin, kickstarting the cells to manufacture vitamin D. It’s this ‘sunshine vitamin’ that helps maintain your immune system, strengthens bones and teeth, improves muscle performance and even supports brain function.
And it’s right about now, through to September, that UVB rays from the centre of our solar system are most potent.
But the NHS advises us to be careful, recommending short periods in the sun, and covering up before your skin starts to colour.
So, what about the risks?
With skin cancer increasing by almost 50% in the past 10 years, dermatologists are advocating year-round sunscreen application. So, you’re right to be worried. In 2019, Cancer Research reported that an astonishing 90% of melanoma cases could have been prevented if people took better care of their skin in the sun. That’s 9 out of 10 people.
Karis Betts, health information manager at Cancer Research UK said: “Sun safety is not just for when you’re going abroad, the sun can be strong enough to burn in the UK from the start of April to the end of September, so it’s important that people are protecting themselves properly. We want to encourage people to protect their skin from UV damage by seeking shade, covering up and regularly applying sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and four or five stars.”
So, what’s the solution?
Regular use of an SPF lotion from spring to autumn. Even at home in the UK.
And happily, a recent study by the British Journal of Dermatology* indicated that vitamin D is still produced when we wear sunscreen. So, we can harvest its benefits without the risk of sunburn and more serious issues.
Ideally, your sunblock should:
- Be applied daily from April to September
- Be a minimum SPF 15 to protect against UVB rays
- Have a minimum four star UVA protection
*Taken from a Science Daily press release – Does Sunscreen Compromise Vitamin D Levels?