Sure, most South Africans love the outdoors, and this time of the year is all about sunshine, blue skies and impossibly tiny shorts. C’mon, it’s part of our culture!

The sun feels good – all warm and happy and Insta-filter-y. And yes, it can do a lot of good; the sun regulates sleep cycles, stimulates the body’s production of Vitamin D, and enhances feelings of well-being … not even mentioning that a tanned body always looks slimmer! But, it has a dark side.

South Africa sadly has the 2nd highest incidence of skin cancer in the world, after Australia. Unfortunately, even a single sunburn increases your risk of developing melanoma. Also, over-exposure can lead to wrinkles and age spots. Studies show that a woman at age 40, who protects her skin from the sun, could have the skin of a 30 year old.

Applying sunscreen is the second easiest way to protect your skin from sun damage (staying out of the sun is first, but hey, you have to live your life, right?!)

Wearing sunscreen is skincare 101, but we’re about to ditch the dirt. Here are a few interesting facts you probably didn’t know about sunscreen:

  • The SPF in your foundation will not protect you from UV damage. Your foundation - when labelled SPF 15 - will not protect you from UVA rays (it will only provide a small level of protection against UVB, which will wear off during the day).
  • The difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is minimal. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98%. So, is 30 the new 50? Not quite, if you have very fair skin or are prone to pigmentation, the additional 1-2% protection is worthwhile.
  • Sun damage causes break outs, not your SPF. Our skin produces more oil after enduring UV damage, simple as that. Look for water based formulas, labelled as “non-comedogenic”.
  • Sunscreen is not just for super-pale people. Even the darkest toned skin can still develop sunburn, skin cancer, and accelerated skin ageing.
  • “Baby”, “Sport” and “Waterproof” are simply marketing terms. “Sport” sunscreen still needs to be reapplied after sweating and swimming. “Baby” sunscreen may be gentler on an infant’s skin, but small kids should always wear a hat and protective clothing. And there’s no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours or after taking a swim.
  • Sun care products usually expire within two years after manufacture.
  • You need to wear sunscreen every single day, come rain or shine … and indoors. Surprise! UVB radiation is blocked by glass, but UVA streams right in.

Sunscreen is super important but it’s not the only thing you can do to protect yourself against the harsh African sun:

  • Be sure to stay out of the sun between 10 am and 3 pm.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts. They offer the best protection from the sun’s burning rays.
  • Wear a hat, not a cap, to protect your neck and ears.
  • Moisturize your lips! Don’t leave them vulnerable to painful sunburn.
  • Remember the shades! Choose Sunglasses that have 100% UV protection to protect the delicate skin around the eyes.

It’s hot out there, so be sun-smarter!

Source: cansa.org.za, my360.co.za, showme.co.za, shape.com, allure.com, healthywomen.org, themidnightstation.wordpress.com, anitabhagwandas.com, moneycrashers.com, prevention.com, empowher.com,webmd.com, health.howstuffworks.com, mom.com, discovery.co.za, cosmopolitan.com, mentalfloss.com  

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.