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Sunbathing tips E-mail

Sunbathing tips Barcelona

Being exposed to the sun is unvoidable in Barcelona. The climate is very sunny and summers are long and hot. Barcelona gets 2500 hours of sunshine a year on average. That's an average of 7 hours a day so it is a very good idea to protect your skin from the UV (ultraviolet rays) of the sun as much as possible. While a light tan looks good, it also causes long term skin damage and ages the skin.

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Why you should avoid sunburn and how?

Use sun lotion with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 and one that protects agains both Ultraviolet-A (UVA) and Ultraviolet-B UVB rays. What does the SPF factor or sun prortection factor mean? The number of the sun lotion factor refers to how many periods of 20 minutes, that you can be in the sun without getting burnt, when you have applied the sun lotion. So using a higher factor does not give you more protection. It gives you the same protection as a lower factor but for a longer time. 

SPF factor 15 = 15 x 20 minutes in the sun = total of 300 minutes or 5 hours
SPF factor 30 = 30 x 20 minutes in the sun = total of 600 minutes or 10 hours
SPF factor 50 = 50 x 20 minutes in the sun = total of 1000 minutes or 16.6 hours

In Spanish
Sun lotion = "leche solar" (means "sun milk.")
Protection = protección
High = alta
Low = baja
Hours = hours
UVA/UVB filters = filtros UVA/UVB
Water resistant = Resistente al agua
20 = veinte

30 = treinta
50 = cincuenta

Keep re-applying suntan lotion

Re-apply suntan lotion often and use a thick layer. The sunblock factor is just a guideline and not a guarantee. Sweat reduces the protection and so does swimming. Also you might have given parts of your skin a thinner layer or missed some bits, so the generally accepted advice is to keep applying sun lotion at regular intervals - at least once every two hours in general. Please note that in the USA the suntan lotion factors are half the strength of European numbers. So a European sun protection factor of 20 is a 10 in USA

Apply 20-30 minutes before you go out
Many people apply the sun-tan lotion at the beach, but it is best to apply 20 minutes before you go out into the sun

Remember you need some UV-B for Vitamin D
Don't forget that we need some exposure to sunlight to get Vitamin D. Low Vitamin D levels can also cause serious health problems. The sun lotion blocks all UV radiation but we do need some exposure to ultraviolet B rays in the sun, called UVB rays, which make skin cells to generate vitamin D, so some time in the sun without using sun screen is needed. How much time in sun for vitamin D do we need?  10 minutes a day a midday should be enough but it depends on types of skin and your age, so consult your doctor for an accurate assessment and remember you can also get vitamin D from certains foods like fish and dairy products. 

Pale skin
Be careful when your skin is pale at the start of the bathing season. That is when you are most at risk of being sunburnt.

Mid-day sun
Stay out of the sun at midday from around 12:00 to 15:00 when it is hottest. Especially children. (except for the 10 minutes you need for vitamin D!)

Cover up
Avoid prolonged sunbathing and if you do plan to be on the beach for a longer period then cover up. You can buy sun protection swimming gear at all sports shops in Barcelona. Decathalon has a good variety at very reasonable prices. Or just wear a T-shirt and cap as much as possible

Stay in the shade

Staying in the shade works better than suntan lotions. Take a parasol with you to the beach. You can rent sun-beds and parasols on most Barcelona beaches. Or pick-up a cheap parasol at the supermarket.

Don't get burnt 
Getting a tan is one thing, but try not to get burnt. Your skin darkens with a tan because the skin creates a pigment to protects itself from UV rays. That is a natural process to protect skin from getting damaged. But when you get burnt the skin cells are damaged much more and over time it can cause skin cancer or melanoma. But remember that a tan is also skin-damaged and even if you are tanned but don't get burnt, then that is no guarantee that you will not develop skin diseases later in life. So look after your skin and stay healthy and look younger. A good tip is to dry yourself with a towel after swimming. If you dry using the sun the small droplets of water on your face and body can act like small magnifying glasses and create burn damage.

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