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The following information is for guidance only. Much of the following info was taken from www.skincancer.org – an invaluable source and should be read by everyone. Though you might find yourself spending the rest of Summer cowering in a cellar coming out only after dark after doing so.
But educate yourself and you can enjoy the sun sensibly.

Please Read the sun related facts below before visiting the following posts
Make your own Sunblock
Including
Masking Cream
Sun tan Lotion
Sun Tan Oil

Why Limit Exposure To The Sun
There are two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB
UVB is the chief cause of sunburn and linked to sun cancer.
UVA rays, penetrate the skin more deeply, and contribute to photoaging. They do not primarily cause sunburn but are also linked to some types skin cancer.
There may be no indications of damage being done
Anyone over the age of six months should use a sunscreen daily.
Sitting inside might not help. Glass windows filter out UVB but not UVA rays.
Up to 40 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day.

Use Protection

There are several ways to protect yourself
Stay out of the Sun
Wear protective clothing
Use a cream to provide a chemical/physical block

I would suggest you combine all of the above.

A Tannning History

Fist you need to know I have no melanin at all. Which makes me well skilled in the art of tanning without burning and even more so in the art of hiding from the sun. But this knowledge was not easily won.

Growing up as I did I in the 70s in the north of England sun tan lotion was something of a mystery. If it was mentioned at all it was as an expensive and rather pointless luxury talked about in the more expensive women’s magazines. My Granddad was a window cleaner, a man out in all weathers, and he never used anything more than a flat cap for protection from the elements. Even my mother who had been to Spain and had a French pen friend scoffed at such nonsense. Vegetable oil she claimed was all any one needed for tanning. On the few occasions we did see the sun we would lie like chips frizzeling in the heat – till the oil ran out. This usually happened within the first few days as we never had much of anything in our pantry. My mothers housekeeping skills were not of the best.   But even in the short time it was available, I soon came to realise that oil offered  absolutely no protection from the sun.

Having run out of oil mother now claimed that even that was unnecessary. Her latest theory was that you had to burn blistering hard once. Then, when you finally emerged from your darkened room having painfully sloughed the destroyed outer layer skin, you would be immune to the destructive power of the sun. For ever after at the first hint of summer, you would tan a beautiful golden brown. Needless to say this didn’t work either. I burnt and shed but never actually tanned. Lucky we lived in Manchester where Summer, at least one with sunshine, was a rare beast and I only had to suffer this infrequently. But I have come to realise that even if you do build up an immunity to the sun you can still burn – Even people with tans.

I was 15 before I saw real sun. We went to France and a tube of sun tan lotion was bought to celebrate. However it was so expensive that it was severely rationed and we all ended up blistered and peeling and my faith in suntan lotion rather compromised. Most people it seems do not apply enough lotion. You need to be liberal which can be difficult if you are on a budget. And sun tan lotion used to be very expensive and though there are more budget options now, cost can be a consideration.

So I went over to the pale and interesting school. Which involved a lot of covering up. Again fairly easy in Manchester where we hardly ever disrobe.

But then I started backpacking. Maintaining a pallid complexion is hard work when you spend a lot of time outside, snorkelling or mountaineering. I minimise the risk with sensible hats and long sleeve shirts but beaches demand less clothes and swimming of course is always more dangerous with the risk of forgetting the time. Somehow because I am cool in the water I think I am safe to stay out just a little bit longer. And even a short walk up that blazing beach can leave me red and painful. But also and this seems
Really unfair, even cloudy days can lead to burning.

I realised that I needed sun tan / block lotion and lots of it. And it needs to be applied regularly. Even in cloudy weather. I came to this conclusion just as I was giving up plastic. So not only did I have to learn to use sunblock and had to learn how to make it. I have been using zinc based, home-made sun block lotion for about 5 years now. I know it stops me from burning because I burn when I don’t use it. Obviously it has not been tested in a lab and I cannot guarantee results. I still try to limit my exposure to the sun but I feel this cream definitely helps me. I offer this personal account for discussion only. If you do decide to make your own lotion please do more research.

Clothing

Hats  
Research has shown that broad-brimmed hats provide protection equivalent to an SPF (sun protection factor) of approximately 5 for the nose, ears and neck. [For a discussion of the shade provided by hats, see “If You Can See the Sunlight, Seek the Best Shade”]  http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/shade/seek-the-shade Although nothing can guarantee 100 percent protection, the hat is an important weapon in the skin protection arsenal.

How Shady Is Your Shirt

UPF, the ultraviolet protection factor, measures protection from UV radiation in fabrics. A shirt with a UPF of 30 indicates that just 1/30th of the sun’s UV radiation can reach the skin.

A quick and very rough test for UPF-factor is to fabric up to the light source. The more light shines through the more UV hits your skin.

If not using lotion you will have to rely on covering up and trying to achieve an SPF of 15 from your fabric choice. You can buy sun resistant clothing but a lot of it is made from synthetic fibres as they are better at blocking out UV. In a controlled laboratory study polyester provided more protection than cotton, linen, acetate, and rayon fabrics of similar construction (Davis, 1997). SIgh.
Or the fabric may have been chemically treated.

If neither of these options appeal you will have choose your fabric carefully.

Loose weaves of fabric allow more transmission of rays thorugh than more closely woven fabrics.  So lightweight closely woven fabrics may provide higher UV protection than heavy weight but coarsely woven fabrics
Color–darker-colored fabrics transmit less UV rays, thus they block more radiation than the lighter-colored ones.
A quick and very rough test for UPF-factor is to fabric up to the light source. The more light shines through the more UV hits your skin.
Laundry–washing fabrics increases their protectiveness because shrinkage and the loosening of fiber ends creates a tighter weave.
Further, the UV protectiveness of a fabric during use depends on overall quality of fabric, stretch, and wet versus dry condition (Curiskis, 1996).
Interesting read here https://msu.edu/~aslocum/sun/protectclothing.htm

Which Cream
Staying out of direct sunlight reduces the need for cream but you still burn in the shade so cream is always advisable.

You need a cream that protects from both UVA and UVB.
Creams protect in following ways

  • Physical sunscreens reflect the sunlight
  • chemical sunscreens absorb UV light

Physical blockers
Physically block the rays of the sun by covering the skin in a thin coating of white powder that deflects the light. They include Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.
They can leave white sheen on the skin.
Chemical Blockers
Most other sunscreen ingredients beyond titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are chemical sunscreens
Physical blockers tend to be more stable, while chemical sunscreens may degrade and are often paired with other sunscreen ingredients to increase stability. (See more information at AMF.org.)
Some people are allergic or sensitive to chemical sunscreens.

Sun Block Active Ingredients

Against UVB (290-320nm):
Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA), Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Octinoxate, Octisalate (Octyl Salicylate), Oxybenzone, Padimate O, Sulisobenzone, Trolamine Salicylate, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide

UVA (320-340nm):
Dioxybenzone, Ecamsule (Mexoryl), Helioplex, Meradimate, Oxybenzone, Sulisobenzone, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide

UVA (340-400nm): Avobenzone, Zinc Oxide

Making Sun Block At Home

Zinc Oxide
Zinc Oxide is the most easily obtained and can be bought from numerous online stores. It is easy to use. And protects the skin from UVA, UVB and UVC.
It is one the oldest and most effective sunblocks.
It can be added to home made or ready made lotions and to oils like coconut oil.
Find suppliers and recipes here

Microfine Titanium Dioxide
Can also be used to make your own sunblock and can be bought online. More information here.

SPF
Sun protective factor provided by cream is measured in SPF
SPF factors only measure protection against UVB. You will need a cream that also protect from other kinds of rays.

SPF4 filters out 75% of UVB
SPF10 filters out 90% –
SPF15 filters out 93%
SPF25 filters out 96%
SPF30 filters out 97%
SPF50 filters out 98%
SPF100 99%
Source

Applying Cream
Sunscreens are unlikely to be fully effective after 2 hours
According to the skin cancer organisation  “you need to apply 1 oz – about a shot glass full. Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around one half to one quarter of an 8 oz. bottle. Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating a great deal.

Natural Sunblocks
There are claims that certain oils like coconut oil have a natural SPF. This may well be true but I strongly advise you do not rely on this alone.

Self Tan

If you want your lotion to be self tanning as well you might want to add some DHA

5 thoughts on “Sun Protection Information

  1. I have a plastic free sun tip. Drink lots of tea and other things high in antioxidants! I gave up soda and now drink lots of iced tea (I’m talking at least a litter a day) and now I don’t get sunburns or they only last a day.

    This is saying a lot because I’m VERY fair skinned and burn very easily. Last summer I didn’t have any sun burns! This year I got one when gardening but it lasted under 24 hours.

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