Everything under the sun to protect your skin

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 12:00am


Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers and skin ageing, according to Dr Kingsley Chan Hau-ngai, a dermatologist at Quality HealthCare. It is therefore important to be sun-smart while enjoying your day out. Here are Chan's top tips.

Wear sunscreen at all times

Even on a cloudy day, harmful UVA rays can penetrate the clouds and cause skin damage. During summer, seek shade and avoid sun exposure when its rays are at their most intense, between 11am and 2pm. Whenever your shadow is shorter than you are, stay in the shade.

Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) tells you how long a product will protect you from sunburn by UVB rays. If it takes 20 minutes without protection to begin reddening, an SPF30 sunscreen will theoretically protect you 30 times longer, or for 10 hours.

Look for the PA grading

This ranges from + to +++. This refers to the product's level of protection against UVA rays, the UV ray that can penetrate glass windows and cause skin to age. Generally, PA++ is recommended. A sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays is said to be 'broad-spectrum'.

Protect the young

On average, people get 80 per cent of their lifetime sun exposure by the age of 18, and bad sunburn in childhood significantly increases the risk of skin cancer later in life. Children should play in the shade, wear appropriate clothing and apply sunscreen. Parents should opt for sunscreen that is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and broad-spectrum.

Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before exposure to the sun

Approximately two tablespoons of sunscreen is typically needed to cover exposed areas of the body properly. Re-apply sunscreen every two hours.