Staying safe in the sun

Now spring is here and the weather’s getting warmer and sunnier, it’s important for us remember to stay safe in the sun. We often think sun tan lotion is just for holidays and are often surprised when we get caught out by sunburn in Britain, but we still need to take care to protect our skin in this country.

Sun Awareness Week, run by the British Association of Dermatologists is from 3 to 9 May this year. This year’s theme is early detection; with most people having spent much of the past year at home due to multiple lockdowns, less people will have been checking their moles or skin for changes, or might have hesitated in booking a GP appointment if they’ve noticed something they’re not sure about.

While we’ve learned a lot more about skin cancer and have got a lot better at looking after our skin over recent years, it’s important that good sun safety practice begins in childhood. Children’s skin is much more sensitive than adult skin, and damage caused by repeated exposure to sunlight could lead to skin cancer developing in later life.

Here’s some top tips for keeping your kids (and yourself) safe in the sun.


Cover up

While most kids might be in shorts and t-shirts or dresses in the summer, for kids with particularly fair skin, you might want to keep them in long-sleeved clothes. And while darker skin tones may have more natural protection from the sun’s UV rays, it doesn’t mean they’re completely resistant to sun damage. 

We offer a range of shirts and blouses that are made from cotton blends – the natural fibres of cotton will help to keep kids cool even when wearing long sleeves. 

Hats are a perfect choice to protect your child’s face and neck – make sure to choose one that shades the face, scalp, ears and neck. 

If you’re visiting the beach, rash vests are a great way to protect kids from the sun while they’re playing on the sand or in the sea, and have become a really popular choice in recent years.


Lotion up

We can’t always keep completely covered up so sunscreen is the next best choice to protect skin which will be exposed to the sun.

Some kids might let out a scream at the cold lotion going on, but there are so many more options nowadays such as spray-on creams and gels, so you can get your wriggly child protected as quickly as possible.

There are a few things to bear in mind when buying sunscreen:

  • Choose a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB
  • Choose at least 4-star UVA protection

You also need to make sure the sunscreen is not past its expiry date. Most sunscreens have a shelf life of two to three years so if you’re using some up old holiday lotion, make sure that it’s still in date.

Once you’ve chosen the right sunscreen it’s important you apply enough of it. Sunscreen should be applied liberally to all exposed skin, including the face, neck and ears, and needs to be reapplied liberally and frequently, and according to the manufacturer's instructions. This includes applying it straight after you have been in water, even if it's "water resistant", and after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off.

Hyperpigmentation, which are spots or patches of darker skin, can be caused by sun damage and sun exposure can cause these areas to become more pronounced. Using sun protection may help maintain a more uniform skin tone.


Be a good role model

There's no safe or healthy way to get a tan. You can set a great example to your kids by practicing good sun safety yourself.

Try and always have some sun protection handy – whether that’s in your car or handbag, and make sure your kids have some in their school bag or kept at school.

By encouraging your children to make sun safety a habit, when they’re at school and you’re not there, they’ll take the initiative on keeping covered, applying lotion and keeping their skin safe.