The golden rule of UV exposure is to NEVER SUNBURN. If you want dual protection, start pre-tanning at a JCTA Member Salon at least four weeks ahead of your sunny vacation/summer season.
Know your Skin Type. To find your number go to SkinType.ca
Know the UV Index where you are. The higher it gets, the higher your risk of overexposure and sunburn. There are a number of ways to get the UV Index, most weather/news networks will list them, or you can get an App for your Phone or Tablet. They list the High for the day and sometimes give it to you hourly. It's based on UVB exposure - this is lowest in the morning, increased at solar noon, and decreased in the late afternoon. Some people suggest not going out between 10am and 2pm. However, that’s the optimum time to make vitamin D naturally, which could reduce the risk of some skin cancers. Check out this video that explains when you make vitamin D.
There is a great website that can be used on any device to calculate how long you can stay out based on your Skin Type, UV Index, SPF and where you are in the world. First if you have a PreTan from a sunbed, Canadian research has shown you could handle 6 times the exposure, approximately an SPF 6. To be on the safe side use SPF 5 for your tan. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but this become a multiplier of your chemical sunscreen – Dual Protection. Example 5 X SPF15 sunscreen = SPF 75 applied properly (see below). Click here for the map and you can see first how long you can stay out with just your tan and then add a sunscreen in to the mix. You’ll be amazed how long you can stay out, I was, especially surprized when looking at locations in Canada. But on a tropical vacation this can be totally different.
Bring a hat and sunglasses. You need to protect your eyes.
Seek shade when you're going to be outside for a prolonged period of time, or cover up with UV protective clothing.
If you decide to use chemical sunscreens, make sure you have the right product.
- Use only a Full Broad-Spectrum SPF - don't unbalance Mother Nature.
- Make sure you apply it correctly. Apply a shot glass worth (30ml) per application, every 2 hours or after coming out of the water. The actual research says, "2 milligrams per square centimeter thick on your skin". Anyone have a tape measure?
- Research has shown that improper use can increase your risk of skin cancer:
- Chlorinated water (pool) can change the properties of the sunscreen and could be toxic. (Wang 2017)
- Not applying the right amount of sunscreen reduces the effectiveness substantially (for example, an SPF 30 when applied 1/3 to 1/2 the recommended amount would reduce the protection to approximately an SPF of 2 to 4).
- If not applied every 2 hours when outside, it could increase your risk of skin cancer, according to research. (Hanson 2006)
- Sunscreen use seems to be beneficial for lower latitudes with high UV indexes and may not be so beneficial for higher latitudes like Canada according to the latest systemic review. (Silva 2018)
By staying in the sun longer when you think you are protected, just because you are not burning, you may still be getting overexposed damage to the deep layers of your skin.