Bronze Ambition – Sunbathing Safely
With all this golden sunshine around, we all want a sun-tan.
And, unlike many of life’s pleasures, a tan isn’t illegal or immoral, and it doesn’t make you fat. But we do have to worry about wrinkles and skin cancer, not to mention brown spots and broken capillaries. Fortunately, there’s still a way to enjoy it.
A suntan results from the production of melanin, the skin’s brown pigment cells, in response to absorption of UV-rays. A tan is our natural defence system against UV. It also demonstrates that the skin is under assault (and is being damaged) if exposed to too much UV.
The biggest concern with sun exposure is burning as sunburn is most associated with skin cancers. However, excessive UV exposure (even without burning) may carry dangers.
Independent cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting says you can still enjoy the sun as long as you wear sufficient SPF protection.
“SPFs” first appeared in the 1970s, so we over-50s are familiar with them and aware that the “SPF” indicates the effectiveness of the product at preventing sunburn. The higher the number, the greater the protection. But even a very high SPF cannot protect your skin if you over-do the exposure. Also, it is important to apply sun-screen “regularly and generously.” Dr Bunting recommends 30ml (about a shotglass) of SPF 30 every two hours. It should be re-applied after swimming, sweating or towelling off. Sunscreens which claim to be waterproof, or claim to need applying just once, are longer-lasting, but even they must be topped up after the specified time, and should be topped up if you towel-dry your face or body .
Too many people still don’t use sunscreen. One reason is a dislike of sticky or oily textures. Fortunately, they’ve hugely improved. For example, Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Fluids dry instantly on the skin and won’t stick to clothes, thanks to special powders. That product, however, offers only SPF15 protection, so it may be worth sacrificing the comfort of a ‘dry’ product for greater protection.
Nivea Sun Protect and Refresh Refreshing Sun Lotion is definitely non-sticky and also cooling in the heat.
For faces, Garnier Ambre Solaire’s BB Cream Sun Protection SPF15 combines high protection with BB-cream benefits. Hawaiian Tropic’s Silk Hydration Face SPF 30 moisturises for 12 hours and is also ideal under make-up.
We are very impressed with Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Lotion SPF30 at £4 for 200 ml. This has the highest UVA star-rating in the star rating system which shows how much protection a product provides. The lotion is also available in SPF50-plus.
We also like Solait SPF50 Moisturising Sun Lotion from Superdrug. At £4.49 for 200 ml, it is formulated with broad-spectrum sunscreens. These helps screen against ageing UVA and burning UVB rays. Antioxidant Vitamin E and a 24-hour hydrating formula also help to protect the skin against free radicals while keeping it feeling soft.
Go Slow to Stay Safe in the Sun
Just be aware that SPFs are not the total answer. A tan acquired slowly is safer. Experts definitely recommend avoiding sun exposure between 11 am and 3 pm.
So try to get your tan and that vital Vitamin D fix when the sun isn’t too fierce.