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How to choose and use sunscreen

Be UV Aware Sunscreen

This spring and summer we are working with the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus NI to share top tips on getting the best from your sunscreen and protecting your skin from cancer.

Between March and October, the days are longer, the sun is stronger and many of us are spending more time outdoors. The UV rays from the sun can be strong enough to damage our skin and eyes, even if it is cool or cloudy. This includes people who tan easily and those who don’t – remember, your skin is damaged by sun exposure over your lifetime, whether you burn or not. So, along with spending time in the shade, covering up and wearing hats and sunglasses, it is important to use sunscreen when the UV level is 3 or more.

When choosing sunscreen, check that it gives protection from both UVA and UVB rays which can speed up skin ageing, cause burning and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

  • To reduce your exposure to UVB rays your sunscreen should be at least SPF15, but higher SPF will give more protection


  • make sure it has a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars, or displays the EU logo for UVA protection

How you apply your sunscreen affects how well it protects you. Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen to achieve the stated levels for SPF and UVA protection on their sunscreen. To protect against UV damage:

  • At least six full teaspoonfuls of sunscreen lotion are needed for an all over body application for an average adult, which is more than half a teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm and the face and neck (including ears), and just over one teaspoon to each leg, front and back of body.
  • To give a good level of protection, sunscreen needs to be applied generously 30 minutes before you go outdoors, then reapplied every 2 hours or more frequently after swimming, sweating, or towelling the skin.

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