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Sunscreen is essential, especially in summer. But not all skin is created equal, and some types are more sensitive than others. Find out more about the importance of using the correct protection for your skin type.

We all know that we need to apply sunscreen daily, especially during summer when the sun’s UV rays are even stronger. But how do we know whether we are using the correct protection for our skin type? Sun safety for all skin types is so important. According to Alexa Wilding, senior brand manager for Everysun, various factors that could make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Certain types of medication may increase sun sensitivity, while those suffering from skin allergies should make use of extra protection when outdoors. The science backs this up – according to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, people with sensitive skin are more likely to suffer from sunburn.

Read the label

“However, sensitive skin is not only sensitive to the sun, but also to the ingredients in certain creams and moisturisers,” says Wilding. A sunscreen specially formulated for sensitive skin will prevent unnecessary breakouts and skin irritations. “Those with sensitive skin should not shy away from summer, but they should enjoy it using the right protection.” Dr Elizabeth Tanzi, from the Department of Dermatology in Baltimore, says sunscreens with non-chemical ingredients work best for sensitive skins. Look for sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which provide both UVA and UVB protection, she advises.

Vitamin booster

Sunlight is one of the main sources of Vitamin D. This essential nutrient is used to prevent muscle weakness, promote bone density and keep depression and other ailments at bay. But after months of lockdown, more people are being diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiencies. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service has recommended that those who spent extensive periods indoors during lockdown should consider a daily dose of Vitamin D.

Healthy eating

Contrary to popular belief, sun exposure is not the only way to boost your vitamin D intake. Cansa argues that while UV radiation is one source of the vitamin, it is not necessarily the best because of the increased risk of skin cancer. Speaking at the American Academy of Dermatology’s SKIN academy (Academy) in Washington, Tanzi said: “UV radiation is the most preventable risk factor for the development of skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in this country. There are more than an estimated one million new cases of skin cancer every year. Despite this fact, there remains a tremendous amount of misinformation about UV exposure – especially in relation to vitamin D.”

Sun safety for all skin types is so important. If you have sensitive skin, minimise your exposure to the sun. Also be sure to take in Vitamin D through the food you eat. Fatty fish and fortified healthy cereals, cheese and milk are all good sources of Vitamin D.

Read why including sunscreen in your child’s school bag is essential.

Sun safety tips from The Skin Cancer Foundation of South Africa:

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day
  • Apply 30 minutes before exposure
  • Reapply every two hours when outdoors
  • Don’t skip over the ears, scalp, back of neck and hands
  • Avoid outdoor activities between 10am and 3pm
  • Your risk of skin cancer doubles with more than five sunburns in your lifetime
  • Beware of reflective rays – water, sand and concrete all reflect the sun’s rays

READ MORE: About protecting skin from sun damage and sun and water safety