The ABCs of UV Protection

Apr 05, 13 The ABCs of UV Protection

Being in a country with high UV index, I am appalled that many of us are quite lacking in terms of UV protection. UV had been proven to be harmful in many ways. In fact, too much of UV exposure may lead to skin cancer, on top of making one darker (which is undesirable at this part of the world) and a natural ageing agent. Sun protection is an important step to look younger as UV is the main cause of photo-aging (ageing due to light exposure). Apart from skin, UV is also the cause of cataracts. I guess I have done enough to prove that UV is undesirable and that the next step is to protect yourself from UV and the sun.

The iconic Slip-Slop-Slap slogan

The easiest and probably most catchy way to remember sun protection is by the iconic Slip-Slop-Slap slogan used by the Australians in the 1980s. It has been extended to encompass more ‘s’ ; “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide”. This literally means slip on a shirt, slop on a sunblock, slap on a hat, seek shade or shelter and slide on a sunglass. Honestly, I do get confused with this slogan- was it slap on a sunglass or slide on a shirt? I guess that’s not the main point. The important point is to get the sun protection facts right.

Slip on a shirt

I think this need no extended explanation. Clothing is certainly a way to protect our body against UV light. Long sleeves and long pants or skirts are one effective way to prevent UV on our limbs. Nowadays, there is clothing that come with UPF (ultraviolet protective factor). Like SPF, it conveys how much of sun’s ultraviolet radiation can penetrate the fabric. Higher UPF provides better protection and vice versa. Generally, thicker, heavier and darker fabric offers more protection. Dark blue denims had been estimated to offer UPF of up to 1700!

Slop on a sunblock

Sunblocks are not only for beaches… It is quite a common misconcept that sunblocks seems to be made for beaches. In Malaysia where UV index is high throughout the year, it is a good practice to put on sunblocks on a daily basis. There are generally 2 types of sunblocks; chemical and physical sunblocks. Most commercial sunblocks are a mixture of the two. Physical sunblocks are often used in sensitive skin but tends to be more opaque and less aesthetically appealing.

Use sunblock with SPF of 30 and above which UVA protection. SPF is a measurement on its protection against UV radiation. For example, if your skin takes 20 minutes to burn under a condition, sun block with SPF 30 will enable you to stay 20 X 30 minutes till you finally get the sunburn. Using the correct amount and frequency will also determine on how effective is the sunblock. Squeeze two strips of sunblock from the tip of your finger to the first finger crease. This amount will be the optimum amount to cover your face and neck. Reapply sunblock every 2-4 hours for the best protection, especially if you are by the beach.

Slap on a hat

There are now specially manufactured UV hats that provide UV filter with the hats. If unavailable, choose broad brim hats that can shade your face, head, ears and neck. A good hat can protect not just your skin, but your eyes as well.

Seek shelter

This is often the most sought after way of sun protection under the blazing hot sun. However, UV radiation can still be reflected on the ground to reach you. Hence, you probably should rest further away from the sides of the shelter for better sun protection. Apart from static shelter, think about umbrellas as well. UV reflective umbrellas are good companions to have to reflect the UV radiation away while providing shades to your upper body.

Slide on a sunglass

While trends is one consideration when you choose your shades, there may be other features that you want to look out for to ensure that your sunglass provides adequate sun protection for your eyes. Close fitting and wrap around sunglasses offers more protection. Do look out for labels indicating the level of sun protection as well. So instead of looking for nice, stylish sun glasses, its time to look for nice, stylish and sun-protective sunglasses!

So the next time you are about to step out of your doors, think about how much have you done for yourself against the glaring hot sun that awaits you…. Be Sun-Smart!

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