Britain’s sudden heatwave means we are taking every opportunity to bask in the sunshine while we can. Although there is no denying we all love a sun kissed ‘glow’, its more important to understand the detrimental impact that prolonged sun exposure can have on our skin.





Ultra violet (UV) rays from the sun help to activate vitamin D- which is important for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, and for the support of your immune system, lung function and cardiovascular health. However overexposure can also significantly increase one’s risk of photoageing and skin cancer.


UV rays are divided into 3 main subtypes: UVA , UBA and UVC. UVA and UVB reach the earth and penetrate our skin. UVC is absorbed in the upper atmosphere and can’t reach us. UVB makes up only 5% of the UV rays, but is responsible and essential in the production of vitamin D.


Yet, exposing as little as 20% of the body surface to sunlight is equivalent to ingesting 1400-2000 IUs of vitamin D. The daily dose of vitamin D as recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board is only 600IU/day for people aged 1-70 years old and over 800 IU’s for over 70s.



Your skin is the largest organ of the body, and the body’s first line of defense from environmental toxins. The most common skin cancers are Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC) and Basel Cell Carcinomas (BCC) and most of these develop on sun exposed areas of the skin.




FACT- Your number of wrinkles is significantly related to your total hours of lifetime sun exposure. The World Health Organisation reports that “Chronic overexposure to the sun can change the texture and weaken the elasticity of the skin. Sun induced skin damage causes premature wrinkling, sags and bags, and easy bruising. Up to 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to ageing may be caused by sun exposure.


Thus, there is a strong reason as to why sunscreens are so important. Sunscreens contain something called UV filters which interfere with solar radiation through either reflection , absorption or dispersion of the energy. A sunscreen with an SPF15 (Sun Protection Factor) filters out 93% of UV radiation. SPF30 filters out 96% and those with SPF50 filter 98% of UV rays. One study has noted applying sunscreen in the first 18 years of life, reduces your chances of developing skin cancer by 78% in your lifetime.



Avoid prolonged sun exposure.

Always use a sunscreen with a high SPF reading – ideally SPF30 or SP50 – and start as early as you can.

Children younger than 6 months should not be directly exposed to sun and should not use sunscreen to allow adequate synthesis of Vitamin D


Zahra Algebory

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