Ask yourself this: did you remember to apply your sunscreen this morning? Correction: did you apply enough to protect against harmful UV rays? And, then, did you top up your SPF throughout the day, reapplying a high-factor, broad-spectrum formula every two hours? It’s safe to say that, in the UK and globally, there are still a ton of misconceptions and myths that shroud the vast but all-important topic of sunscreen. The problem is, SPF isn’t just for your holidays nor is it for when you’re exposed to increased sunlight; it’s for every single day.
New research carried out by Melanoma Focus points to the fact that most of us understand the importance of wearing SPF when we’re abroad or on holiday, but we forget or neglect to wear it at home. The data, which was carried out on over 2,000 people in the UK aged over 16, found that 45% of British people wear SPF while they’re abroad but it’s not part of their daily routine at home. More worrying still is the fact that the study shows that half of UK adults think sunscreen is too expensive and most (67%) would use it more if it was cheaper. To add, 1 in 10 people aren't wearing sunscreen at all because it’s too expensive.
Why is it important to wear SPF every day?
Regardless of the weather or scenario, wearing SPF every day should be a force of habit for everyone. Not only does daily use of sunscreen support skin health - UV exposure is one of the biggest causes of visible signs of ageing, like fine lines and wrinkles and contributes to inflammation, hyperpigmentation and photoaging – but protecting your skin from UV damage is crucial to avoid skin and health issues in the long term.
Is UV exposure the same year-round?
The problem is, as new data reveals, a lot of us don’t prioritise sunscreen when it’s not sunny outside. But UV rays are a year-round constant - even on a seemingly grey day UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and even fog. Around 50 percent of UVA rays can also penetrate through glass meaning you still need to be applying (and reapplying your SPF) when you’re inside.
Seasons and geographical locations also impact the intensity of UV exposure. While the UV levels are lower in winter (because during winter the earth tilts further away from the sun) that doesn’t mean that you can scrimp on SPF. According to Cancer Research, in the UK, the sun’s UV rays are the strongest between 11am and 3pm from mid-March to mid-October, but they still penetrate the rest of the year when UV exposure is lower. UV rays can damage cells and cause skin issues even in the colder months.
How exactly do sun rays harm the skin?
Quick refresher: ultraviolet radiation (UV) refers to the source of energy that’s released by the sun. There are two main types of harmful rays: UVA and UVB rays. UVA radiation can contribute to long-term skin issues and cancers, while UVB is what causes sunburn; it causes direct damage to skin cells and is the cause of the main cellular damage.
While you might see the immediate impact of sun exposure take a toll on your skin (say hello to sunburn), over time sun rays can cause direct harm to the skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancers. That’s because UV radiation damages our skin cells’ DNA (responsible for the communication and function of skin cells). Too much UV radiation causes DNA damage to build up, cells begin to grow and produce genetic defects, which can lead to skin cancers such as melanoma.
What is melanoma and can you prevent it?
Melanoma is a serious, but often preventable, type of skin cancer. The main cause of melanoma is sunlight which can damage the DNA in skin cells. “Melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK and the deadliest form of skin cancer,” says Susanna Daniels, CEO of Melanoma Focus. “86% of melanomas are preventable and, therefore, wearing a high SPF sunscreen is a hugely important safety measure for protecting against it,” she adds.
The first signs of melanoma are usually described as a change in the appearance of an existing mole or often a new mole. “We urge people to make themselves aware of melanoma symptoms and seek medical help if they notice anything suspicious, particularly any changes to a mole or lesion. Early detection leads to a higher cure rate and more treatment options,” shares Daniels.
According to Melanoma Focus, there are around 2,300 melanoma skin cancer deaths in the UK every year (about seven every day) and the number of cases is expected to climb to around 26,500 by 2038.
Hello Sunday's commitment
To combat these misconceptions, Hello Sunday is committed to spreading awareness about the year-round importance of sun protection. Recognising the need for accessible sun protection, Hello Sunday supports the efforts of key cancer charities and MPs who are advocating for more affordable options and asking the UK Government to remove VAT. While changes in pricing structures may take time, Hello Sunday wants to encourage UK consumers to incorporate SPF into their daily routine, 365 days a year.
Starting from Tuesday 18th July 2023, Hello Sunday will be offering a 20% reduction, the equivalent of VAT, on all SPF products available on hellosundayspf.com throughout the summer months (July and August 2023). This initiative aims to make high-quality SPF products more accessible to individuals across the UK, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to prioritize their skin health. Hello Sunday remains committed to its mission of making every day a sun day and invites all individuals to join the
movement for everyday sun protection.
Join us and spread the important message of year-round SPF in the UK.
Say yes to SPF, no to VAT!