Studies have shown that using sunscreen doesn’t stop you from topping up on vitamin D – so don’t hesitate to apply it.
“In terms of vitamin D,” explains Heather, “You really don’t need very long outside to get your levels up. And the body doesn’t store vitamin D – it just breaks down any excess – so overexposing yourself to UV will just increase your risk of skin cancer, without actually helping your vitamin D status.
“Our advice in general is to speak to your GP about whether supplementation is appropriate if you are deficient in vitamin D.”
Are you in date?
If, as the weather gets warmer, you’re taking a fresh look at your sunscreen stash, then it’s worth checking that it’s in date, says Heather. “That can catch you out if you’ve had a big bottle of sunscreen in the cupboard for a while.
“They can go out of date, and that reduces their effectiveness. Plus, if they’re stored in a place that’s too warm, then over time they can separate, so check that it’s the right consistency, that it looks how it should look and that it’s in date.”
And when it comes to wearing it?
“The way to find out whether you need sun protection is to check the UV.” If it’s at three or above, you’ll need to be wearing sunscreen.
“It’s a common misconception that the heat from the sun causes sunburn, and that this causes cancer, because you can often feel the heat from the sun and you can’t feel or see UV,” she explains.
You can do this by checking the UV index at the Bureau of Meteorology, or you can download the free SunSmart app that not only shows you the index, but also indicates the times during the day you’ll need to be wearing protection.