How to stay SunSafe this Winter
Excuse me? SunSmart and Sun Safe in the winter? Yes it’s not a typo.
In some parts of Australia the UV doesn’t drop below the safe level of 3 at all during winter. And in both autumn and spring the UV levels can reach up to 8 in some areas, even though the actual temperature feels cool. We all naturally think of sunburn only in hot weather, and sometimes forget (or don’t realise) that we can still get burnt when it is cool, or even quite cold. This means we need to be extra careful and follow the Cancer Council advice to wear sunscreen whenever UV levels are 3 or above.
So what’s UV again?
Two types of UV light that are proven to contribute to the risk of skin cancer are UVA and UVB rays. Both cause damage to the skin but harm us in slightly different ways.
- Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength, and contributes to skin aging.
- Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength, damaging the outer layers of your skin and causes skin to burn.
And it’s not just the risk of cancer that we’re talking about – but also the skin damage that exposure to the sun causes over time. You might think that the occasional bit of sunburn won’t hurt. But it causes long term damage to skin cells which stays even after the sunburn has faded away.
Here are some of the places where you might be at more risk of sun exposure and some ways to look after yourself and your family’s skin.
When you’re at the beach
Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen!! It helps protect the skin from damage that is caused by exposure to UV by filtering UV radiation. The higher the SPF (sun protection factor) the higher percentage of rays that are filtered.
So pack up your SPF 50. Pop it on 20 minutes before arriving at the beach and every two hours after that (or more if you go swimming).
When you’re having a picnic
Roll out your favourite Hammamas towels and blankets and enjoy the great weather we have here in Australia. Pack clothing, hats and sunshades as they also help protect you and your family from those rays!
When you’re doing sports
Any outdoor sports on sunny days mean you should be thinking about your SunSmart routine. You might not have considered it but if you ski you are at even more risk – UV levels are higher in alpine regions than at sea level; plus the snow is highly reflective which can cause your skin to burn. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if you’re sweating a lot.
When you’re just out and about
If you’ve been given any general health tips too they might include ‘getting plenty of Vitamin D during the winter’. We all want that lovely feeling of Vitamin D soaking into our skin, warming us up and making us feel happy. But it’s important not to be out in the sun (and therefore damaging UVA and UVB rays) for longer just to achieve that. Experts say that when UV levels are 3 or above, you’ll get enough vitamin D with just a few minutes of sun exposure while completing everyday tasks – like walking to the car or shops, walking the dog, gardening, working outside or eating lunch in the garden or deck. Research by the Cancer Council also suggests that prolonged sun exposure does not cause vitamin D levels to continue to increase further but does increase the risk of skin cancer. So there’s no need to be in the sun for longer to try and ‘get more Vitamin D’.
Some of our team here at Hammamas like using the UV app to check the conditions daily and know what sun protection they need to apply. You can also download the SunSmart app here.
The Cancer Council tells us that even mild sunburn can increase your risk of developing melanoma and the more often you are burnt and the more severe the sunburn is, the higher your risk will be. So wherever you are heading in the next few weeks and months, make sure your sunscreen and Hammamas are on the packing list for your adventures!
With love and sun protection vibes from the Hammamas team x
Notes: No part of this content is a recommendation and you should seek expert advice from your GP or other medical professional if you have questions and wish to take action regarding your skin care in the sunshine.