This week is sun awareness week, and we want to make sure that everyone knows the effects that the sun can have on their skin and health. The sun is a necessary part of our lives, as it helps us produce Vitamin D. However, too much UV exposure can lead to skin damage and even skin cancer. In this blog post, we will teach you how to get the right amount of sun exposure to get your daily dose of Vitamin D, whilst also protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Stay safe this sun awareness week!

Women watching sunset by the ocean

90% of visible signs of aging are due to sun damage.

What is Sun Awareness Week?

Sun Awareness week is a vital campaign, as skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, and rates continue to rise. In fact, according to Cancer Research UK, melanoma rates have quadrupled in the last 40 years. It is so important to be aware of the dangers of too much sun exposure, and to take steps to protect your skin. But it is also important to remember that the sun has some benefits for our health, namely in providing us with Vitamin D.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for our health, and the sun is one of the best sources of this vitamin. Vitamin D helps to keep our bones healthy and strong, and can also help to protect against conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The NHS recommends that everyone should consider taking a daily supplement of Vitamin D during the winter months, when there is less sun exposure.

"Up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin, even on cloudy days"

So how can you get enough Vitamin D from the sun without damaging your skin? The British Association of Dermatologist (BAD) conducted a study in 2017 that showed that more than one in three (35%) of people were burning every year in the UK, with a further 46% burning while abroad. The key is to strike a balance between getting enough sun exposure to produce Vitamin D, and protecting your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. 

girl sitting in forest with sunlight hitting her

The best way to do this is to spend time in the sun during the middle of the day, when the sun’s rays are not as strong. It is also important to make sure that you are not exposing your skin for too long – around 15 minutes should be enough to get your daily dose of Vitamin D in the summer.  Another safe way of intaking Vitamin D is by taking supplements.  Nutrition Geeks have a range of Vitamin D supplements including vegan and maximum strength easy-to-swallow tablets that ensure you get your daily requirement and more.  

Applying Sunscreen

Remember to also take care of your skin while you are in the sun. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and make sure to reapply it every two hours. As well as reapplying sunscreen every two hours, you should reapply it more frequently if you are swimming or sweating. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to any exposed skin, including your lips, ears, and the back of your neck. It is recommended to wear protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses, and stay in the shade whenever possible. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of  the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.

Avoid Tanning Beds

We all want to achieve that golden summer look but its important to avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These emit UV rays that can also cause damage to your skin and lead to skin cancer. There are alternatives to achieving that look such as  spray tans and tanning lotions, which do not emit any UV rays. Some tanning lotions contain SPFs however its always good to top up with sunscreen to get that extra protection. Or simply enjoy the skin that you're in and rock that natural glow!

Skin Cancer

Check your skin regularly for any changes, such as new moles or spots, or changes in existing moles. If you notice anything unusual, make an appointment to see your GP. If you are worried about skin cancer, there are a number of charities that can offer support and information, such as Cancer Research UK and Melanoma UK. Common symptoms to watch out for of a new/unusual mole is:

Asymmetry: The two halves of the mole may differ in their shape and not match each other.

Border: The border of a melanoma is usually irregular, ragged or notched, rather than smooth.

Colour: The colour of a melanoma may be uneven. You may see different shades of black, brown and tan, or areas of red, white or blue. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue in colour.

Diameter: Most melanomas are larger than six millimetres (about the size of a pencil eraser) when they are first detected, but they can be smaller.  If you notice any changes to your skin, make sure to book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

If you’re worried about the effects of the sun on your skin, make sure to consult with a dermatologist. They can help you create a skincare routine that is tailored to your individual needs and can help you protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

This sun awareness week, make sure to take care of yourself and your skin. Now that you know all about the effects of the sun on your skin and health, make sure to share this information with your friends and family. Spread the word about sun safety and help reduce the incidence of skin cancer. Follow these simple tips to enjoy the sun safely. Stay safe in the sun!

Do you have any sun safety tips that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below!