Stay safe in the sun

Sunscreen and summer clothing

It’s important for our physical and mental health to spend time in the sunshine. However, you need to make sure that you are protected from the UV rays of the sun. Exposure to these rays over time can cause sunburn in the short term and can lead to more serious problems such as skin cancer.

Spend time in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm. This is when the sun is at its hottest.


Cover up with suitable clothing:

  • a wide-brimmed hat that shades the face, neck and ears
  • a long-sleeved top
  • trousers or long skirts in close-weave fabrics – these fabrics will block the sunlight

You should also wear sunglasses. Spending a day at the beach without them can cause a temporary but painful burn to the surface of the eye, just like sunburn. The sunglasses you wear should have wraparound lenses or wide arms with the CE Mark and British Standard Mark 12312-1:2013 E.

Take extra care to protect babies and children. Their skin is much more sensitive than adult skin, and damage caused by repeated exposure to the sun could also lead to skin cancer.

Children aged under six months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.


Wearing sunscreen can protect you from getting sunburn. Sunburn increases your risk of getting skin cancer.

Sunburn doesn’t just happen on holiday. You can get sunburn even on a cloudy day in the UK.

Make sure you:

  • wear sunscreen that has at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30, and at least 4-star UVA protection
  • make sure the sunscreen is not past its expiry date
  • do not spend any longer in the sun than you would without sunscreen
  • adults should apply around six to eight teaspoons of sunscreen if you're covering your entire body
  • apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands
  • apply 30 minutes before going out and again just before you go out
  • reapply straight after you have been in water, even if the sunscreen is ‘water-resistant’
    • you should also reapply after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off, as well as every two hours

For more information about sunscreen, including how to apply and the different types of SPF, visit the sunscreen and sun safety page on the NHS website.

To find out more about sun safety, including how to keep yourself and your home cool, visit our Summer Safety guide.

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