How to Stay Safe in the Sun


Chances are you’re going to be outside this weekend – and before you start on the beer, you need to start thinking about staying safe in the sun, however hardy you are. You rarely see sunburn straight away – it takes about eight hours to develop – so you need to take precautions from the start.

Fake it beforehand: If you’re already tan when you hit the beach or the park, you’ll feel less inclined to roast once you get there. Body moisturizers that contain a bit of fake tan are ok if you only want a hint of color, but if you want a proper tan, you’ll need a full on fake tan – as the moisturizers start looking streaky after several days’ use. As someone cursed with pasty English skin, I’ve tried a ton of fake tans and the only one that doesn’t turn me streaky or orange is Fake Bake. Go with that, and you won’t go wrong.


Don’t rely on the SPF in your daily products: Lots of makeup and normal moisturizers now contain SPF, but if you’re spending the day on the beach, you need a proper sunscreen as well. Apart from anything else, you need to reapply sun block every two hours and you don’t want to be whacking on more and more makeup. Try and get a sun block that’s water resistant, even if you don’t plan on going in the pool – it’ll stay put more when you sweat (which, let’s face it, is fairly likely in the sun).


Make sure it’s within its date: If you’ve bought sunscreen in the States, the FDA requires the ingredients to stay active for three years, so make sure it’s still in date. Having said that, if you’ve still got a bottle left over from last summer, you may not be applying enough…


Apply it right: No matter how high the SPF, applying it wrong can bring the effective SPF down. Apply it liberally – one ounce, or a shot glass is enough, according to the American Academy of Dermatology – to dry skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors. Then reapply every two hours, or after you’ve been swimming or sweating heavily – whichever comes first.


And if worst comes to worst: If you do think you’ve been burnt, try popping an aspirin or ibuprofen. They’ll help to block the development of the swelling and the redness, but will only work before you develop the sunburn – take it after the pain starts, and it won’t make any difference. To make skin more comfortable, a cold shower will constrict blood vessels, calamine lotion cools the burn and moisturizing thoroughly will also help. And keep out of the sun, obviously.

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