I am someone who is cursed/blessed with a very fair complexion. While my friends grow a few shades darker in one beach-bummed afternoon, it takes me the entire season to notice a couple of new freckles added to the collection on my forearms. Surprisingly though, I am still schooling many on the incidental occasions you think you don’t need sunscreen, but really (really) do.
As we quickly bid adieu to a low UV index, replaced by a sweaty and scorching couple of months, here’s a humble reminder of the daily activities that still require sunscreen.
You’re behind the wheel
Glass does block most (not all!) UVB rays, so while you may not get sunburned through the window, UVA rays can penetrate and they’re the ones that contribute to ageing and the development of skin cancer. If you’re driving often, or for long periods of time (like, that Byron Bay road trip you have planned) you should be applying sunscreen to all exposed areas.
You’re on an aeroplane
It’s possible! Truly! Like cars, the glass windows on an aeroplane do a great job of blocking most UVB rays, but for anyone sitting at the window seat (for hours on end, might I add) those UVA rays can still penetrate. Cloud cover too, which is commonplace at high altitudes, can reflect UV rays and amplify the sun damage. Pull down that shade in between checking out the view, and ensure you’ve applied SPF protection prior to, and throughout the flight.
You’re working in an office
The risk of sun exposure while working indoors or at the office is low, but if you happen to man a desk quite close to a window, this is when we encourage you to think again! Any form of direct sunlight requires sun protection; clothing in this case, might be sufficient, but a layer of SPF on the face, shoulders, arms, hands, is going to eliminate the potential for prolonged sun damage (sun spots, pigmentation, wrinkles etc).
You’ll ‘only be outside for 5 mins’
Forgetting to apply your sunscreen for the occasional short outing - commuting to work, ducking to the post office, lining up for a lunchtime bagel - isn’t the end of the world, however if you do this daily the sun damage starts to accumulate. Think of having to add up all those 5 minute occasions come the end of the year…that’s hours in the sun. Always better to be safe than sorry.
You’re under the beach umbrella
Umbrella shade (no matter how cute, colourful, frilly) may not provide sufficient protection if you’re thinking of setting up camp for a solid few hours. While they work to prevent direct UV rays, they don’t block all scattered and diffused rays, so the skin can still burn. It’s essential to use a combination of sun protection methods, instead of simply relying on one, so think SPF and shade, plus sunglasses, a hat, and protective clothing.
A myth! A misconception! A tall tale! Ultraviolet rays penetrate right through the clouds to reach your vulnerable skin, so spending time outdoors on an overcast day, without broad spectrum protection, is very risky. Before you head outdoors, always have a look at the UV index as the most accurate guide; three or higher and you should be boasting a healthy layer of SPF 50 protection.
It’s after 5pm
Risk: LowThe sun’s rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm, with the potential for sunburn (UVB rays) diminishing little by little every hour after that. The closer to sunset the weaker the sun may appear, but as long as there’s daylight, UVA rays will maintain their intensity. Where you live will also affect how strong the sun is, soooo if the Aussie summer is anything to go by we’ll still be slip, slop, slapping at all hours of the day.