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Can You Really Burn When It's Cloudy?

Most people think they know about sun protection but there are myths and we receive questions on a near daily basis from different brand loyal consumers who want to better understand the implications of poor sun protection.

Of course you can.

Clouds don't prevent all UVA / UVB radiation from reaching the earth's surface. They are not a shield to UV rays. They may reduce or at times intensify radiation depending on circumstances, but all-in-all; they are and never will be a shield to UV radiation.

Most people think they know about sun protection but there are myths and we receive questions on a near daily basis from different brand loyal consumers who want to better understand the implications of poor sun protection. At times, the questions are genuinely worrying:

Do I need to apply sun cream if I'm in the water for most of the day?

I'm going hiking tomorrow so do I need sun cream as its forecast cloudy?

Does an SPF30 mean I can play in the sun all day?

The best came when I was shopping at my local store and overheard a member of staff explain how SPF30 actually means you need to be 30 years or older to apply it. I was shocked to hear that from a member of staff. Needless to say, I intervened.

I cannot give an accurate statistic as to how many of us are educated in sun protection, but I believe the two factors that separate those of us at risk and those who will remain safe are 'common sense' and 'preparation'.

We seem to remember our toothbrushes, hair gels and mascara, but forget a bottle of sun cream that is just as important if not more important for your well-being.

I feel the myths are more of a hindrance in the educating of consumers so I've come up with a few tips to help dispel some of the untruths out there:

  • Protection from UVA radiation is only measured by a star rating?

Answer: False.

In 2012 the European Standardization Organization published the Standard EN ISO 24443:2012 Cosmetics - Sun protection test method for UVA protection. If the UVA level of a product is more than one third of the SPF level, it is deemed safe and can have the logo printed on pack. The logo is a circle with the letter UVA inside.

I notice certain products also use a star rating symbol. As good as it may be, ultimately it is a retailer initiative and not a European recommendation, hence, there is more than one way to measure UVA. Keep an eye out for added value in packs, e.g. extra volume or specialist accreditations. The cost of a sun care product is not proportional to the quality of protection. Spending over £100 on sun creams will never change an SPF30 product into an SPF50. What will keep you protected is common sense and preparation.

  • Sun creams will always prevent you tanning?

Answer: False.

Nothing will always prevent you tanning unless you stay indoors. Even with a hat and a shade, there is a small chance of tanning. When our skin becomes tanned, it is ultimately a sign of skin damage but due to its bronzing effect and golden rich color, many consumers enjoy keeping a tan. It is a social reality we live in today.

Sunburn on the other hand is the biggest danger to our skin and consumers need to see and understand the difference between tanning and burning. Sun creams are primarily made to prevent sunburn as they are protection products. Sunburn can be avoided by using higher SPF products.

  • Sun creams are not important when it's cloudy?

Answer: False.

Clouds don't offer any genuine protection against the sun's UV rays when it is hot, so sun cream is necessary.

  • Sun creams do not go out of date?

Answer: False.

Sun creams and cosmetics in general do go out of date. There is a shelf life and it should be followed. On most cosmetics look out for the 'jar' logo which will indicate the number of months the product will last for after opening it. For example 12M is 12 months after opening. Sun creams are usually between 12 and 24 months.

Sun care products can change in texture and color if they go out of date so keep an eye out for this too.

  • Higher the price, better the protection?
Answer: False.

As a statement, one cannot be any further from the truth. Our Calypso Sun Lotion SPF30 was voted Which? Magazine Best Buy in 2014 and 2015 and it was the cheapest product on test, costing £1.20 per 100ml. It passed all the relevant tests and the levels of protection in our products proved better, than some of the more expensive brands.

  • Stay in the water and you won't sun burn as much?

Answer: False.

Swimming pools, water parks and the sea can all play a great part of your summer holidays but please remember 'water' is not a protector of UV radiation. In fact some say it intensifies the rays but either way, it does not protect the skin from UV rays.

The mistake made by many is because when immersed, it cools us and we can't feel the heat or burning sensation, however this quite simply isn't true. It does and you should always purchase 'water resistant' products if you are planning to swim.

To be extra safe, take a t-shirt and shorts with you wherever you go.

Keep these at the forefront of your mind and stay safe in the sun for the remainder of the summer.

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