Everyone loves sunny summer holidays, but it's important to spend your time in the sun wisely. With earth's damaged ozone layer, the sun's UV rays are penetrating the planet's surface at a concentrated level. Cancer Research.co.uk statistics show that the number of malignant melanomas has more than quadrupled in the last three decades.
To keep you feeling happy and safe under the sun, we've compiled a list of sun-safe tips leaving you prepared and free to enjoy that glorious, sunny summer holiday.
Wear sun screen
The days of rubbing baby oil on your body and basking for hours may be gone, but you can still enjoy a little sensible time in the sun. If you're going to be brave the rays, make sure you wear proper sun block - at least factor 25 - and remember to reapply after swimming. Sun block should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside. This gives your skin enough time to absorb it properly. Also, make sure your skin is dry before applying sun block. If you apply it to a sweaty or wet face, it will dilute and rub off. Don't risk burning your skin to leather for the sake of a tan that lasts a week or two, the risks - skin cancer, sun spots, cataracts, dehydration - far out way that browned look.
Drink Drink Drink
If you've been couped up in an office for months, your body won't be used to hot weather. Remember to pack water and juice on days when you'll be out in the sun - whether you're on a hike or tanning. Your body needs fluids to cool itself down. If you don't sweat enough, your body temperature will rocket and this can quickly lead to dehydration or heat stroke. Both conditions are serious if left untreated and can mean the end of a fun holiday in the sun.
Take a siesta
Make like a continental European and retreat indoors for a cheeky snooze during the hottest part of the day (between 11am and 2pm). Alternatively, relax in the shade during these peak sun hours - bring an umbrella with you for guaranteed cool, or visit the shops, go to a gallery or explore the local castle. Breaking up your time in the sun will reduce the risk of fatigue, sun burn and dehydration.
Dress to protect
Wearing the right clothing in the sun can keep you cool and burn free. If you're sightseeing under the sun, stick to light cotton or linen shirts, shorts and a wide brim hat. Light clothing that covers your neck and shoulders will also save sensitive areas from getting burned. The look may not be the height of fashion, but you'll look even less fashionable with blisters and flakey skin.
Dress your eyes
A pair of decent sunnies will block out the sun's UV rays, which can cause cataracts, pterygiums and muscular degeneration, particularly in older people. Not only will sunglasses protect you from ultra violet radiation, they improve vision in bright conditions and block out the glare - perfect if you're driving or induldging in a bit of watersport fun.
Beware the glare
Sunlight reflects off the water, snow and sand. This glare reflects up to 12 times as much light intensity as normal UV rays. If you go anywhere near these surfaces make sure you're wearing sun block, donning those UV-protective sunglasses and covering up!
Take a break
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, sunburn strikes. If it happens to you, be strict and stay out of the sun altogether until your skin recovers. Tanning over burnt skin is a one way ticket to blisters, sores and wrinkles.
Think of the children
Make sure you don't forget to slap the sunscreen on the kids, reapply regularly, pop a hat on their heads and make sure they're well covered up while building sandcastles. Children's skin is far more sensitive to the sun's harmful UV rays than adult skin and deserves a bit of extra TLC.
Just because it's cloudy, does't mean the sun can't reach you. Cloud cover does reduce the risk of getting burnt, but only by a fraction and UV rays can happily penetrate cloud cover. Never treat a cloudy day as an opportunity to give sun block a miss!
Lose the paranoia
If you spend your entire holiday, weekend or day worrying about sun hazards, you won't enjoy the beautiful weather. Put your mind at rest by being prepared before spending time in the sun. Do the necessary checks before heading out and then enjoy yourself!
Last Updated: September 2010