Slip on a tshirt, slop on some suncream, slap on a hat… something we all do religiously all Summer. How about Winter? Or Autumn? Or Spring? If your answer is no, let’s see if we can change that.


What do the SPF numbers actually mean?

SPF measures the theoretical amount of additional time you can spend in the sun as a result of applying sunscreen.

 

How much protection do you need?

Here’s a rough guide.

  • SPF 15 filters 94% of UVB radiation
  • SPF 30 filters 96.7% of UVB radiation
  • SPF 50+ filters 98% of UVB radiation

 

What are UVA and UVB?

UVA and UVB stand for Ultraviolet A, and Ultraviolet B respectively. Ultraviolet light damages skin as it reacts with living tissues. UVA used to be considered ‘safe’ but it is now known to have a cumulative damaging effect. UVB  is mainly responsible for causing sunburn, although UVA does contribute as well. Even if the sun isn’t beating down hard over us, you still need UV protection. About 80% of UV rays penetrate through clouds, so living under the cloudy UK skies provides very limited protection.

 

The higher the better?

Yes and no. Wearing SPF all year round does come with a caveat. We all need sunshine to top up our vitamin D levels. Completely blocking out the sunshine does mean that you’ll need to up the vitamin D via the foods that you eat or by taking vitamin D supplements.

 

VitD-rich foods

  • Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolk

 

Last words

Hit the Vit-D, and, as Baz Luhrman said, “Use sunscreen“.