The Risks Of Tanning: Sun Awareness Week 2023

Sun Awareness Week is held annually in May and is organised by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD).

This year’s weeklong campaign will be taking place from the 3rd until the 9th May, with the purpose of educating the public about the risks of skin cancer, how to prevent it and how to detect it early. 

Whilst enjoying the warm weather and soaking up the sunshine is great, we all need to be aware of skin protection, as unfortunately, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with young people often being affected too. 

This national awareness campaign helps to encourage people to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

From wearing sunscreen to seeking shade during peak hours to wearing protective clothing, there are plenty of important tips to help you practise sun safety, which you can find out within our post. 

sun awareness week 2023

The Risks Of Tanning 

Sun exposure poses several risks to your health and it’s not just tanning outdoors which you should worry about either, tanning from sunbeds can be very harmful as they can give out greater doses of UV than midday tropical sun. 

Did you know that you have a 75% risk of developing life-threatening melanoma just from one indoor tanning session before age 35?

We know, this figure is scary but raising awareness is important, not just for Sun Awareness Week but beyond. 

While you may like catching a tan due to the “glow” it can give to your appearance, regardless of whether you catch a tan through natural sunlight, through the use of sunbeds or through sun lamps, these all pose significant risks to your health. 

We have highlighted below some of the risks of tanning: 

  • Sunburn – Sunburn is hot and sore skin caused by too much sun, often appearing a few hours after exposure. 
  • Skin cancer – Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the primary cause of skin cancer. 
  • Premature ageing – UV Radiation can cause premature ageing of the skin including wrinkles, age spots, leathery skin and dryness. 
  • Eye damage – UV Radiation can damage your eyes, increasing the risk of eye conditions like cataracts.
  • Weakened immune system – Tanning can weaken your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight off infections and illnesses.
  • Dehydration – Being in the sun for prolonged periods can cause dehydration, which can lead to dizziness, fatigue and other health problems.

the risks of tanning

How To Observe Sun Awareness Week 2023

Considering Sun Awareness Week 2023 is on the horizon, we’ve put together these tips on how you can observe this annual awareness campaign and practice sun safety. 

It’s important to highlight that just because the UK climate isn’t as sunny as other countries, it doesn’t mean that sun protection isn’t needed, you should always ensure you’re looking after your skin! 

how to observe sun awareness week

1. Apply Sunscreen Everyday 

Sun Awareness Week is about promoting awareness of sun safety, and one of the best ways you can look after your skin is by applying sunscreen everyday.

Before heading out and about, add sunscreen to your skincare routine and apply it 15 to 30 minutes before leaving your house, ensuring that it has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30.

What many people don’t realise is the fact that you can still get sunburn on a cloudy day as they do not completely block off the sun’s UV rays.

This means that even when it’s not visibly sunny outside, you should ensure that you apply sunscreen. 

Applying sunscreen once during the day isn’t enough either, you should be applying it often especially if you’re sitting in the sun for more than 2 hours. 

Remember, regardless of your skin type or colour, UV exposure can cause permanent damage to your skin, so make sure you take care of yours! 

applying sunscreen everyday

2. Take Shade 

There’s nothing wrong with spending time outdoors and enjoying the wonderful sunshine, but to protect your skin you should do this in small doses. 

If you’re spending a large period of time outdoors in the UK, whether it’s at a festival, at the beach, within a park or even your garden, you should reduce your risk of sun damage by taking shade during the hours of 11am until 3pm. 

Whether it’s using an umbrella, accessorising with a hat, sitting under a tree or taking other shelter, you shouldn’t just rely on sunscreen to protect you from the sun’s UV rays. Make sure to take proactive measures to keep yourself safe in the sun! 

To help you remember, the shadow rule states that when you look at your shadow, if it’s shorter than you, it’s a good time to seek shade.

taking shade from the sun under a tree

3. Protect Your Eyes & Lips 

What many people don’t realise is that your eyes and lips are just as susceptible to sun damage as the rest of your skin, so make sure that you protect them. 

UV rays can radiate directly from the sun as well as reflect from the ground, from water, snow, sand and other surfaces, so to help shield your eyes from sun damage, you should wear sunglasses year-round when you’re out and about, and when driving. 

Before purchasing sunglasses, make sure to read the label to find out whether they provide UV protection, as just because the lenses appear dark, it doesn’t mean your eyes will be shielded from the damaging effects of UV rays. 

For much-needed sun protection for your lips, grab some SPF lip balm and be sure to apply it throughout the day.

This will help to hydrate, moisturise and protect your lips! 

protecting your eyes and lips sun awareness

4. Plan Your Outfit 

It’s fun to spend time soaking up the sun, and we all want to look and feel our best when doing so, but you should make sure that you plan your outfit accordingly. 

When spending time in the sun, you should try to cover up as much skin as possible, which can be done by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants or long skirts. This sort of clothing can help to shield your skin and provide UV protection! 

When swimming, you can get sunburnt more quickly due to reflection from the water which makes the sun’s rays stronger.

So, you should try to cover up with a beach top when taking a dip in the sea or a pool.

Another way to promote sun safe behaviours for Sun Awareness Week 2023 and beyond is to wear a wide-brimmed hat, as this can be the best bet to protect your face from the sun.

planning your outfit sun

As the team at Homes for Students have discussed, Sun Awareness Week 2023 is an important campaign which helps to promote sun safety within the UK, and help to reduce the risks associated with skin damage and skin cancer. 

Remember to take our tips on board and practice sun safety within your everyday life, even in the UK climate! 

Read next: The Full Guide To UK Student Visa Requirements 2023.

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