The Sun and the Skin - The Low Down

Stay informed of the latest advice regarding your skin and sun exposure so you can be confident that your sun exposure is safe and you stay healthy.

The sun has ultraviolet rays which can damage the skin. However, the body does need to skin to have some skin exposure to make Vitamin D. This blog will make understanding safe sun exposure easier.

The Basics

Skin Damage

The sun damages collagen and elastin fibres in the skin. They respond by releasing enzymes that increase free radicals in the skin and cause more collagen break down. It’s like a vicious cycle
Ultraviolet or UV rays that damage the skin include both UVA and UVBrays.

UVA rays

  • Damage deep layers of the skin
  • Are present all year round
  • Can penetrate glass

UVB rays

  • Cause more superficial damage to the skin, such as sunburn
  • These rays are most intense when the sun is high in the sky, so in the middle of the day (10 am till 4 pm) in summer months
  • These rays cannot pass through glass

Vitamin D production

  • The skin needs to be exposed to some direct sunlight to make Vitamin D which is essential for bone health, heart health and a healthy immune system
  • If you have fair skin, you need less exposure to the sun that if you have darker skin
  • For fair skin, 5 – 10 minutes daily with your forearms and lower legs exposed should be enough. Add an extra 5 -10 minutes per day for darker skin
  • Sun exposure needs to be when the sun is high in the sky, so an ideal time is between 10am and 11am or between 3 pm and 4 pm
  • Your skin cannot make Vitamin D if the sun exposure is through glass. The sun has to hit the body directly
  • If you get adequate sun exposure in the summer, your body stores of Vitamin D should be enough to cover the winter months


  • Protect your face from the sun at all times. Sun is very aging and there is no reason to expose your face to the sun
  • In the summer, make sure your forearms, hands and lower legs get some sun exposure when the sun is high in the sky – preferably either earlier or later in that period, so closer to 10 am or to 4 pm. For the rest of the day, you can protect your skin from the sun


  • Wear a wide brimmed hat
  • You can wear clothing with sun protective factors if you are in a very hot climate and are likely to be outdoors for long periods
  • If possible, avoid being outside when the sun is highest in the body
  • Apply a sunscreen – make sure if provides both UVA and UVB protection
  • Make sure you reapply sunscreen every 2-4 hours and after being in the water or after sweating

What is SPF?

  • SPF is the Sun Protection Factor
  • The SPF refers to the ability of the sunscreen to block UVB rays
  • The SPF number is not easy to interpret – it is not as easy as saying that SPF30 is twice as good as SPF 15. In fact SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. There is no 100% protection from UVB rays


  • Ideally use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and there is no benefit from using products that have a SPF above 50
  • Choose a sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB cover. Look for UVA protection ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium oxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, oxybenzone.
  • You must apply sunscreen for it to be effective and reapply often (every 2-4 hours), particularly after swimming or sweating

Personal Favourite

I love my Sunright 30+ sun protection. It's non greasy and can be used on the face and body. I pair that with the Sunright SPF lip balm and a wide-brimmed hat

Ready for summer

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