The Importance Of Sun Protection

The Importance Of Sun Protection

There's nothing quite like the feeling of warm sun on your skin, especially in the summer months. We love to bask in the warm heat, whether wandering in parks in the UK or tanning abroad. The sun is also one of the prime sources of vitamin D, which is important throughout our lives, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be wary of the power of the sun and risks of sun damage. 

Here, we look at the importance of sun protection, the consequences of sun damage and offer a few ways to protect and repair your skin after sun damage.

Why Is Sun Protection Important?

The sun is powerful and can easily damage your skin in minor ways, like sunburn, and major, by causing skin cancer. Years of sun damage will also speed up the natural aging of your skin, leading to a higher chance of heat stroke – since older skin doesn't sweat as much and won't cool you as well. Using sunscreens, staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing are all ways to protect yourself from sun damage.

Types Of Sun Damage

red and white wall

There are a few types of sun damage, ranging from the inconvenient and trivial, to the serious and scary. By being aware of sun damage, you can better protect yourself, your skin and overall health.


Almost everyone with a paler complexion has had a sunburn at some point in their life. Sunburns are the reddening of your skin caused by sun exposure. Skin can appear pink or very red depending on the severity of the burn, and will feel hot and sore. Sunburns can last for up to 7 days.

How Long Does It Take To Burn In The Sun?

It takes between 10 and 60 minutes to burn in the sun. How quickly you burn will depend on the strength of the sun that day, measured using the UV Index scale. The higher the UV Index, the faster you will burn, especially if you have paler skin, even if you are using SPF and sunscreen protection. A UV rating of 3–5 and you'll take around 50 minutes to burn. A UV rating beyond 8–10 and you will burn in less than 15 minutes.

Treatment For Sunburn

You can treat a sunburn fairly easily, in most cases, by first getting out of the sun. Then cooling your skin in a shower/bath or with a damp towel. You should also drink water to rehydrate. The NHS advises that you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain. 

If you've already been burned, you can use an aftersun to soothe your sore skin and help re-moisturise it so that it can heal quickly. We would recommend Esthederm After Sun Repair or La Roche-Posay Posthelios Melt in After Sun Gel.

Dry Skin / Lips

While dry skin and lips can also be caused by cold weather, under the sun you will be sweating and losing hydration which can cause dry skin and lips. Lip balms and moisturising creams will help with most cases of dry skin. However, sun damage of the skin of lips can also result in more serious conditions like actinic keratoses and actinic cheilitis. This is when skin gets rough, sometimes with raised patches and bumps, and lips become cracked, dry and scaly. These can develop into more serious conditions so any issues should be checked by a doctor.

Freckles, Moles & Age Spots

These are all a natural part of sun exposure and are often the most visible but least worrying effects of skin damage. Freckles, moles and age spots can appear over time as a result of sun exposure. This is because the sun causes our skin cells to make more melanin in order to darken skin and protect it from sun damage – which is why we tan in the sunshine.

Skin damage becomes more of a concern with freckles, moles and age spots when they become sore or start bleeding. A change in shape or size can also be a sign of a developing skin issue, like skin cancer, and should be checked by doctors.

Skin Cancer

'Around 147,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year' in the UK. It typically affects men more than women and is more common in the elderly. Without proper sun protection, sun damage can lead to skin cancer. 

There are a variety of kinds of skin cancer which are caused by the sun and signs of this on the skin can be burst spots, moles, sores or patches of discoloured skin that change in shape and colour over time. Skin cancer is very serious but can be treated. If you have any concerns then you should speak to your GP immediately.

What To Use To Protect Skin From Sun Damage

sun cream

You'll have seen plenty of different sunscreens and sun protection creams advertised to help you protect against sun damage. There are lots to choose from and they vary in effectiveness. It is recommended that you choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 as this will ensure you are protected from 97% of the sun's UVB rays – which cause skin damage. 

It is worth noting that no sunscreen will protect you 100% from sun damage. For full protection, you would need to stay out of the sun or wear protective clothing that covers your skin. But if you enjoy being in the sun, there are products you can use on a daily basis, or whenever you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors and in the sunshine.

Urban Sun Protection

We recommend Institut Esthederm City Protect Spray if you want an easy, everyday sun protection spray. The added benefit of this sunscreen is that it protects against pollution and free radicals, which are damaging to our skin and bodies and at higher levels in busy cities.

Strong Sun Protection

Dermatologist approved, hypoallergenic and offering SPF50 plus UVB and infrared protection, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Body Spray is the perfect way to quickly and easily protect from sun damage. This is safe for the whole family, will help protect against sun damage and won't cause irritation.

Stay Safe & Sun Protected

There are lots of reasons to protect against sun damage, for your personal health and longevity as well as comfort. Using the right sun protection products will ensure you get to live happily and healthily in the skin you are in. And, if you really want to get the sun-kissed look but want to avoid the sun, there are plenty of self-tanners that will do the job.