Sun safety - the one thing it's ok to be an absolute moron about.

By Gemma

sunrant.jpgDoctors tell us to wear it. The government tells us to wear it. Baz Luhrmann tells us to wear it. But still, thousands of people (men and women) are putting themselves in danger by skipping or scrimping SPF cream / lotion. And to be frank, it does my head in.

It is absolutely beyond me how anyone - even someone who 'doesn't burn' - can sit in the Sun without any protection following all the warnings, campaigns and articles that have shown how bad prolonged exposure to the Sun is. I'm not just talking about the risk of skin cancer here, but also the premature aging, the skin damage, the ravaged hair and the good old-fashioned sunburn...

There still seems to be a mindset - particularly among Brits - that you only need to wear a high factor sun cream if you burn.


There also seems to be an understanding that to get a good tan, you have to go red first.


Many people also seem to believe that the higher the factor, the worse the tan.

Again, wrong.

It perplexes me that people still believe this rubbish. At this time of year, we're up to our ears in campaigns and promotions telling us to slip, slap and slop...but still we jump on planes en masse to sun-drenched holiday destinations, where many of us will lie out covered in oil, ridiculously low SPFs like 2 or 4, or my absolute favourite (spotted on a red, blistered, pale skinned blonde) bog-standard moisturising lotion.

I think what gets me most about this ridiculous attitude to sun care is the fact it's not a small minority of morons who are doing this. I know plenty smart, intelligent women who think nothing of lying out in the midday Sun on hot days wearing no protection whatsoever because they 'don't burn'. Well, there's always a first time, ladies. And it's the same Sun here as it is on holiday!. The other day I mentioned that I use a SPF on my face all year round. My friend was completely shocked. Maybe I am over-cautious because I have skin that burns in minutes, but having seen the Sun damage I already have (thanks to a skin analysis at a beauty event) I'd really rather be safe than sorry from now on.

We may not get so much of it, and there may be more clouds in the way, but the Sun is still strong in Summer in the UK. There is a good reason a lot of facial skincare products and cosmetics now have built-in SPFs, and it's because the Sun attacks our skin in many ways, not just by causing it to burn. We need to protect from UVA and UVB rays, on sunny days and on overcast ones.

As global warming changes things (remember the UK heatwave a couple of years ago?) I push for the UK to take a leaf out of Australia's book. There you can rarely find anything below a SPF 15 or 20. Coach tours and boat trips often have complimentary sun cream on offer for anyone who's forgotten it. Schools educate children about Sun safety. People aren't encouraged to do ridiculous things like 'go without cream for a bit to build up a tolerance' or 'sit out for a while in the middle of the day with a lower SPF to get a tan' (both things that have been suggested to me by otherwise intelligent women). The majority of Aussies know the rules and have the brains to look after their skin...I still fear a lot of Brits don't.

So if you know you're one of those who's taken risks in the past, please put the coconut oil down and slap on some SPF 30. Take care of the bits people miss, like the tops of the ears, the ankles and the parting of the hair. In cases like this, it's always better to be over-cautious.

After all, who wants to look like a wrinkled old handbag by the time they're 40?

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