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Staying Sun Safe With Dr Firas

10th May 2018  : 

Now the sun has come out to play, sun safety is a top priority for us. Whether you have fair, olive or darker skin, keeping your skin safe in the sun should be a top priority. sk:n Medical Director Dr Firas Al-Niaimi recommends his top tips for staying safe in the sun…

It seems obvious, but use sunscreen correctly

  • Moles need extra protection, as they heighten the risk of developing skin cancer – simply put a stronger SPF on any that will receive sun exposure
    • Did you know? Sun exposure can further stimulate melanocytes (pigment producing cells) to be active. Whilst most moles will not change upon sun exposure, any mole that does change appearance as a result of UV light stimulation should be checked out by a dermatologist or your GP.
  • You should never use SPF that’s out of date, as it will be ineffective and not protect you from sun damage.
  • If you’re actively sunbathing, it is recommended you apply 1oz of SPF over your skin at least 20 minutes prior to sun exposure – and remember to top up every 2-3 hours!
  • Make sure your SPF is non-comodogenic (does not block pores) before you use it on your face as well as body. There are gel-based products too which are more suitable for oily skin.
  • The skin on the face is thinner and receives the most exposure, so make sure you’re applying more sunscreen in that area too.

Be savvy about sun rays

  • There are two types of damaging sun rays: UVB rays cause sunburn and UVA rays contribute to premature ageing and both contribute to skin cancer, so it’s key to know what you’re dealing with when in the sun.
    • Did you know? The sun has a wide array of light wavelengths and colours but it's the ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths (UVB and UVA) that act on specific receptors on the melanocytes which increases their activity to produce more melanin. This determines our skin colour and pigment density.
    • Did you know? UVA in particular can penetrate deeper into the skin and break down our collagen and elastic fibres leading to leathery skin and deep wrinkles. UVA is the same light that is used in artificial tanning salons.
      Water can reflect the rays and increase the risk of burning, so apply extra SPF when swimming.
  • 95% of the sun’s rays can travel through the clouds, so it’s best to always wear SPF, even if it’s overcast, to avoid ageing the skin.
  • It’s important to get some Vitamin D from the sun – but set a timer of 10 minutes to an hour without SPF to make sure you’re not getting burnt.
  • Although most foundations and moisturisers contain SPF, make sure it’s at least SPF 20, and applied every two to three hours in the sun.

Protect yourself from the sun, inside and out

  • Always wear sunglasses: the surface of the eye can be burned in a similar way to our skin and the UVA rays can contribute to aging signs around the eyes.
  • Long, loose clothes are the best things to wear, with close-weave fabrics, as they don’t let the sun rays through.
  • You should always eat foods full of sun protecting anti-oxidants such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, salmon, avocado and eggs – these can help prevent skin damage from the sun.
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