How to stay safe whilst having fun in the sun!

There’s nothing better than lying on a beach all day. And there’s nothing worse than getting up and finding you’ve been sunburnt. Strong sunlight can be dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions – so make sure to read our handy guide to sun safety before you head to the beach.

Sunlight is good for us – helping our bodies to produce vitamin D, getting us out into the fresh air, and making most of us feel ten times better – but it’s important to understand the risks involved too. Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation occurs naturally in sunlight, and too much exposure can cause a range of health problems for your skin and eyes if you don’t look after yourself. It’s not enough to just slap on a bit of SPF in the morning and assume you’re fine to lay on the beach all day – being sun-smart takes a bit more planning.

Sun protection

The number one rule of sun safety is to always use the right amount and strength of sun cream. You might not be the sort of person who burns easily, but everyone’s skin is affected by UV rays – and exposure to strong sun can cause potentially serious health issues.

Creams, blocks, liquids and sticks all basically do the same thing, but it’s important to pay attention to the SPF number on the bottle. The SPF is a measure of how well a sun protection product will shield your skin from UVB rays, which affect the top layer of skin, and the star rating shows the level of protection against UVA rays, which penetrate deeper. Always go for at least SPF 30 and four stars to make sure you’re getting the right level of protection – but what factor sun cream you use is less important than how thickly you’re putting it on.

Most importantly of all, always remember to top up your sun protection throughout the day. There are no fixed rules for how often you should reapply your sun cream, but The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends every two hours as an absolute minimum.

Also, if you’re going swimming, remember to reapply again as soon as you’re dry.


Sun cream is great, but the best way to make sure you stay safe from UV rays is to cover up. Wearing sun protective clothing doesn’t have to mean wrapping up in a big coat though – layers of loose, cool fabric are a smart way to stay sun-safe when you’re going to be outside for more than 20 minutes.

Wearing a hat is also a great idea to keep your head, face and ears protected – and the broader the brim, the better.

Don’t forget that UV rays can sometimes be just as strong on cloudy, overcast days too – and you’re not protected by water if you’re in the sea or the swimming pool either, as UV rays reflect off shinny surfaces like water – so cover up every day in the summer, and make sure you don’t spend too long in the water without taking an umbrella break.

Lastly, remember to look after your eyes in the sunshine. A good pair of UV protected sunglasses will prevent any damage (and they usually look pretty stylish too).

Keep an eye on the time

The longer you spend in the sun, the more precautions you have to take. Sun damage isn’t the only thing to worry about when you’re sitting on the beach all day as overheating, sun poisoning and dehydration can all spoil your holiday if you’re not keeping cool enough – especially if you’re drinking alcohol at the same time. Remember to take regular breaks in the shade, make sure you’re drinking enough water and try not to overdo things.

Keep the young ones covered up

If you have children you need to be even more careful as their skin is more sensitive and prone to burning than an adult’s. NHS advice is to keep any exposed skin covered with sunscreen of factor 15 or above, make them wear a hat, and ensure they’re spending enough time in the shade – especially between 11am and 3pm. Fortunately there are plenty of products on the market to help you do this, such as sun shelters and sun suits. And if your child is really young – under the age of six months – keep them out of direct sunlight altogether.

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