The SunSmart Code

The SunSmart Code

Getting too much sun can be harmful whatever your age. It exposes your skin to ultra violet radiation (UV rays) that can damage your skin and lead to skin cancer. With good protection against UV rays, most cases of skin cancer could be avoided.

The SunSmart code tells you to seek shade, cover up, wear sunglasses and sunscreen and check the UV Index to get the best protection possible.

Step 1: Seek some shade

People sitting in the shadeSpending time in the shade is the most effective obvious thing you can do to avoid being in the sun too long. 

Good shade can give up to 75% protection from UV rays.  

Step 2: Slip on some clothes

One of the simplest things you can do to protect your skin from UV rays is to cover it with clothes.

Choose clothes that cover as much skin as possible. For example, wear a shirt with a collar, three-quarter length sleeves and three-quarter length trousers.

Slap on a hat

A woman in a brimmed hatMake sure the hat gives shade to the face, neck, head and ears. A baseball hat is not ideal as it does not give enough shade. Good examples are a broad brimmed, bucket or legionnaire style hat.

Step 3: Wear sunglasses

Your eyes can be damaged by UV rays too.

  • Short-term UV exposure can result in mild irritation, difficulty with bright lights, excessive blinking and sunburn of the part of the eye known as the cornea.

  • Long-term exposure can result in cataracts and cancer.

A man wearing sunglassesChoosing to wear a hat that gives shade to the eyes and sunglasses that give UV protection can help protect your eyes from these conditions.

Eye damage from UV rays can start at an early age.  For this reason it is a good idea to protect children’s eyes with sunglasses when they are old enough to wear them. Make sure the glasses fit well and that they are not a safety hazard.

Toy sunglasses do not provide protection from UV rays. If a child refuses to wear sunglasses don’t forget that a broad brimmed hat and shade will also give some protection.

Step 4: Use sunscreen

When in Ireland wear sunscreen from April to September to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

But remember, using sunscreen alone will not give enough protection against UV rays. It is important to use shade, clothes and sunglasses too. In this way you get the best possible protection from UV damage. 

The type of sunscreen you use is up to you and what you feel comfortable putting on your skin. Creams, lotions, gels and sprays all work but only if used properly. 

Here are some tips to consider when choosing and using sunscreen:

  • Use a ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB; – SPF minimum 30 and look for these signs (UVA protection icon or UVA protection icon) for UVA protection.
  • Apply to dry skin 20 minutes before going outside
  • Be extra careful of those areas that do not get much sun, they will burn more easily
  • For the average adult you will need 35mls of sunscreen to cover the whole body.  We recommend using a measure of half a teaspoon of sunscreen to cover each arm, the face, neck and ears.  Use a measure of one teaspoon for each leg, the front and the back of the body.
  • Reapply every two hours
  • Check the products use-by date and store it below 30°C
  • Choose a water-resistant type if sweating or you are involved in watersports
  • Always check for the UVA logo on the bottle

Step 5: Know the UV index

When the UV Index is 3 or more you are at greater risk of skin damage that can lead to skin cancer.  Get into the habit of checking the UV Index as a reminder of the need to be SunSmart every day from April to September.

Find the UV Index here UV Index for the latest UV information from around Ireland.