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The importance of safe sunning

Yet again bikini and trunks season has rolled around – God help us – and many will be jetting off to sunny destinations ready to get ‘bronzed and beautiful’. But often we underestimate the dangers of being exposed to those midday rays, simply because we may not understand exactly what’s happening to our skin, as well as the fact that we cannot see the damage occurring as it happens.

Sunscreen_87987289_164306cPhoto: The Times

This is actually due to the way our skin reacts to overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. Once overexposed, the body produces certain proteins which causes the dilation of blood vessels creating the typical redness of sunburn, and induces the symptoms of swelling and acute pain. These proteins however aren’t produced immediately, but take around four to six hours to take effect, which is why it is so easy to damage our skin without realising it.

The easy way to combat UV radiation is obviously just to cream up. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll get a better tan with a lower factor sun cream. Lots of people make this mistake, so just make sure you’re not one of them. All you’ll do is get a better burn! So wear a factor 50 over a factor 20 any day. Whilst both will protect your skin, a higher factor will protect you from the suns rays for longer so there’s less risk of getting caught creamless, and it’s these moments that turn you tomato.

However there is the very high proportion of the population who wont be going abroad and will simply be enjoying summer in England (if you dare call it a summer!) who often get caught out. Just because it’s cloudy or it doesn’t look that bright outside doesn’t mean harmful UV can’t reach you. So be careful not to be caught unawares when you don’t feel the heat, otherwise you may later regret underestimating your need for sunblock.

The dangers of sunbeds are also greatly underestimated – if there’s a time you need sunblock, it’s with one of these. Research from The World Heath Organisation proved sunbeds produce twice the amount of UV radiation than midday Mediterranean sun, and rated it alongside smoking under cancerous substances and habits. According to their results, sunburn is the least of our tanning worries as the UV radiation can do more than just damage your skin; it can damage your DNA, causing cancerous cells to generate.

We could question why so many feel the need to go out of their way to change their natural and already beautiful skin in the first place, but social pressures from media and peers will always affect the way people behave. With the media continually pumping out images of bronzed Myleene Klass, floating around in a bikini, or adverts encouraging a “sunkissed” look, where even the word itself is overly emotive and biased towards being a darker colour, there’s no wonder we find ourselves striving to follow the trend.

But if the bronzed look is what you’d really like, then there are a plethora of self-tanning products to choose from, from moisturisers to mousses that not only nourish your skin but also protect you from harmful rays too. Gradual tanning creams give you that more natural skin tone that you can apply at home, and with proper exfoliation before applying, they can actually improve the quality of your skin, for a double benefit. Beware of spray tans however, as it’s all your tan in one hit and it’s hard to tell what shade you may come out… you may end up with more of a Essex look than you had planned!

27/07/2013

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emilyfedorowycz