Don't skimp on the sunscreen

PUBLISHED: 12:17 15 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:17 20 February 2013

UV rays can cause cancer

UV rays can cause cancer

Skin expert Dr Hugo Kitchen gives advice on protecting yourself in from the harmful rays of the sun.

Skin expert Dr Hugo Kitchen gives advice on protecting yourself in from the harmful rays of the sun.

While experts agree that no sunscreen can offer our skin 100% protection, skin types can vary, and so does the need for some people to apply sunscreen more often than others and to use stronger, more complete protection from UV rays.

In the UK, where skin type I (a skin that rarely tans and burns easily) clearly predominates and so stronger protection from the harmful UV rays is mandatory.

However the need to use it daily may depend on the distance from the equator and the time of year. In the Northern Hemisphere from October to April we might get away with a factor 15 sunscreen but in the summer months a factor 30+ would be advisable, especially moving south to sunnier climes for overseas visits.

UVA radiation is much the same everywhere. UVB increases towards the equator. It also causes sunburn and is linked to the development of skin cancers, such as

malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma.

In an attempt to curb the alarming rise of skin cancer rates, European regulations on sunscreens dictate that UVA sun protection factor (SPF) should now be one third of the UVB protection factor ( ie a sunscreen with a UVB SPF of 15 will contain a UVA SPF of 5)..This will replace the UK's star-rating system that ranges from 0 - 5, indicating the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB. This system has confused buyers and lacks translucency.

The new European system of labelling sunscreens will be classified as low, medium, high and very high protection corresponding to SPF 6-10, 15-25, 30-50 and 50+ respectively. Only the UVB sun protection will be written on

the packaging as the UVA content will be equal to one third of it.

But to receive the full benefit, the screen needs to be applied regularly and more thickly. The average sunbather only applies about 30% of the thickness to maintain the designated sun protection.

A more viscous or fatty product would be better but manufacturers believe that consumers prefer gels or sprays for ease ! So the problem remains and is left to the vigilance of the consumer....YOU!

You have been warned!

Dr Hugo Kitchen of the Stratford Dermatherapy Clinic offers a free skin assessment and skin scope evaluation and advice on skin health care using their Cosmedix product range.Contact 01789 414289 email for more information.

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