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Follow these tips to make best use of your sunscreen, and protect yourself from skin cancer

15th June 2008

Well, Friday the 13th seemed to pass in the Collins
household without too many horrors.

Of course, I'm not including the shopping trip I
was forced to make with Lara for curtains.

She practically had me in a headlock for the
whole of the afternoon while I trawled through
shop after shop.

If there's a natural remedy out there for curing
flowery blurred vision, let me know, because after
having been dizzied by so many patterns, it was a
miracle I could read this interesting little article in
the paper...

The celebrity health scare that could
affect you this summer

Apparently, there's a new health scare doing the
rounds this summer and it's all to do with our

Ladies feet in particular.

It seems Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, and a whole
host of other glam people are sporting gladiator
style sandals, and people are rushing to the shops
to copy them.

This, in turn, is leading to an increase in the risk
of skin cancer contracted through more feet being
Exposed to more sunlight.

Two cases of this particular cancer have been
reported so far, and expert opinion thinks that this
trend is going to go up and up, as more and more
ladies expose their feet to sunlight.

Makes sense doesn't it? Except there's one little
thing that I don't get...

I fully understand that leaving your skin exposed
to sunlight for hours and hours without
protection could lead to an increased risk of

But surely this isn't a new problem? I mean I
don't remember seeing girls running across a
beach in hobnail boots, or wearing wellies in
Hyde Park on a scorching hot day.

Still, the logic behind the concern is sound. Feet
are one of those parts of the body that people will
always forget about when they're out in the sun.

So, to help protect your feet, your face, and any
other part of your body that's going to see some
sun this summer (I'm not prying!), try following
these tips:

The do's and don'ts of enjoying the sun

Right the first one is simple...
- Use sunscreen

Crikey - this is all a bit obvious isn't it? I'll be
telling you the best way to tie shoelaces next!

Sunscreens contain chemicals that absorb harmful
rays from the sun (the UV or ultra-violet rays).

Each sunscreen is rated by their sun protection
factor (spf) - and of course the higher the rating,
the better the protection.

But here's a little calculation that explains the spf
that I thought was interesting...

Let's say it takes 10 minutes for you to get
sunburnt without any protection whatsoever.

If you use a sun cream with a spf of 5, it will take
you 5 times as long to get sunburnt, which means
you'll be okay for 50 minutes.

Use a sun cream with a 15 factor, and you'll be
okay for 150 minutes.

So, a higher sun facto doesn't mean you're getting
stronger protection, just longer protection.

That's how I understand it anyway.

So, if you're out in the sun and you assume you'll
burn in ten minutes, you can figure out how often
you should reapply the slap depending on the sun
factor you're using.

- Beware the UVA rays...

Don't assume that choosing any sun cream with a
high spf will do the whole job. The spf rating only
applies to UVB rays.

To make sure you're giving your skin the best
protection, make sure the sun cream you choose
contains avobenzone or oxybenzone - two
substances that have the power to block a broad
spectrum of harmful rays.

- Don't grill yourself...

You don't need to rush out into the sun at its
hottest to get a tan... your skin will burn even
when the sun is hiding behind the clouds. So try
and stay covered up while the sun is at its highest
point between 11.00am and 3.00pm.

- Don't skimp

Most people apply too little. Cup one hand and fill
it up, use then repeat. That should sort out an
average adult.

- Don't wait till you go out to apply sun

Put it out at least 30 minutes before you go out to
give it time to soak into the skin and work its
magic. Also remember to re-apply after you've
been swimming or even if you've been kicking a
ball about with the kids, because the sweat will
wash the sunscreen away.

- Special care for babies...

Children are particularly vulnerable to the
damaging effects of sunlight, so make sure they're
fully protected before they try and bury daddy in
the sand.
Babies under 6 months of age should never be
exposed to direct sunlight and young children
should always have a high SPF applied - no

Also, good old common sense often comes to the
rescue and knocks heads together, so remember...

Sunshine is a GOOD thing. It lifts our spirits and
gives us a vital dose of vitamin D, which protects
us against heart disease, bone disease and,
ironically, cancer.

So don't lock yourself aware during the summer
months fearing the reaper.

BUT - don't go thinking sunscreen makes you
invincible. Be sensible, and limit your exposure to
the sun.

That's all for today. I haven't seen the weather
forecast for the week ahead, but here's hoping
you'll need to use all of this advice straight away.
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