Stay safe in the sun this summer. Wearing sun protection is crucial in the UK for several reasons.
Despite the common misconception that the UK sun is not strong enough to cause damage, the truth is that UV rays are still present and can cause serious harm. In fact, skin cancer rates in the UK have steadily risen over the past few decades, making protecting our skin more important than ever.
Sun protection prevents not only skin cancer but also premature ageing, sunburn, and other skin damage. It is especially important for those who spend extended periods of time outdoors, but people who work indoors also need protection as UVA rays can penetrate windows and cause skin damage. Sunscreen is crucial in protecting your skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that lead to skin damage and skin cancer. It comes in two types: Mineral and Synthetic-Filter Sunscreen.
Mineral sunscreen contains active mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These minerals create a physical barrier that reflects UV rays away from the skin like a giant mirror. Mineral sunscreen is typically thicker and can leave a white residue on the skin, although formulations have improved in recent years and are nowhere near as gloopy as they used to be.
Synthetic-filter sunscreen contains chemical ingredients that absorb UV rays and convert them into heat. It is usually thinner and easier to apply. Still, some chemical elements may cause skin irritation, prickly heat or allergic reactions in some people. Many synthetic sunscreens contain oxybenzone, a chemical compound shown to have harmful effects on coral reefs.
Effects on Coral
When oxybenzone enters the ocean, it can be absorbed by coral, causing DNA damage, deformities, and ultimately death. It can also lead to bleaching, a process in which coral loses its colour and becomes more susceptible to disease.
Oxybenzone can also disrupt the reproduction of coral, making it difficult for reefs to recover from damage. To protect coral reefs, it is important to use reef-safe sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone or other harmful chemicals. Mineral and synthetic sunscreens effectively protect the skin from UV radiation, but mineral sunscreen is generally considered safer for people with sensitive skin or allergies. It is also better for the environment since mineral sunscreen does not contain harmful chemicals that can harm marine life.
- Wear sunscreen (without oxybenzone) with at least SPF 30 and reapply every two hours or after swimming/sweating.
- Seek shade during peak sun hours (10am-4pm) and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages.
- Avoid medication and skincare products that increase sun sensitivity.
- Check your skin regularly for moles or changes and seek medical attention if necessary.