5 ways to protect yourself from the sun (beyond SPF)

WEAR SPF. We all know it, we know we should do it yet that day/week of the year where the UK has a glorious heatwave arrives and suddenly there’s a whole host of pink shoulders and guilty red faces as we bask before we apply that vital protection. We do all know it, but for some reason even knowing the risks doesn’t mean we follow the best advice. In all honesty, I’m not perfect – it’s only this year where I’ve finally gotten into the daily (even in Winter) wearing of SPF. Even then, I managed to burn when I was in Venice due to lack of thorough application of the SPF I had with me. I mean, at least I tried – I didn’t just skip it all together. I am way too pale to get away with that sort of behaviour in sunny climes. Or in the UK for that matter.


So yes, the main message is always WEAR SPF but there’s a few other things you can be doing to protect yourself (skin, hair, eyes…) from the damaging effects of the sun. I wanted to share 5 ways you can protect yourself from the sun that go beyond SPF.

  1. Wear decent sunglasses – NO I don’t mean they have to be snazzy designer ones with a £££ price tag. Sure, go for that if you want. But invest in decent lenses. I am a big fan of the RayBan sunglasses, not just because they make me feel cool. But partly because I think the classic shape suits my face but mainly because of the quality of the lenses, specifically in the polarised version. I’m someone who squints as soon as there’s a hint of sun so pretty much have sunglasses in my bag year round. The difference a decent pair with the polarised lenses made really is amazing. SO much less glare and massive reduction in squinting (and as a result, headaches). My only wish on this front is that I’d spent less time wearing £2 sunglasses (that basically do nothing) and invested sooner. And as above, a decent pair doesn’t always just equal a fancy brand name. It’s the lens that matters – look for ones that promise to block 100% of both UVA and UVB light and I’d recommend going for polarised lenses too if you can. Not only will good lenses protect your eyes but also the skin around your eyes. Double sun protection win..


2. Check your moles – Something you can do at home. Keep an eye on any moles or freckles that maybe concern you. It’s worth taking photos and measuring them so you can really track any changes over time (and not freak yourself out by imagining something has changed when it hasn’t – just because you’re not 100% sure of what it was like last time you looked). But even better, go for a full body mole scan. As someone naturally freckly and with a few moles that I’m keen to keep an eye on. Getting a full body check from a clinic that takes in-depth images of any moles (plus scoring each one) so you can really accurately track them over time and spot any changes before they become a serious worry. They even offer a service where you can include immediate removal of any moles of concern. I have a couple that I’d be keen to have removed just for my own peace of mind but in fact getting them checked and tracked in detail did enough to put my mind at rest for now as I know I have a record to refer to if I think I have spotted any changes. The service I tried (had a full body mole scan in 2015) was at The Cadogan Clinic * which is near Sloane Square. The service includes a mole check by a dermatologist, mole map (full body photos) dermoscopy (in basic terms, examining the skin under microscope) and a report from the dermatologist.  It’s pricy at £299 for the whole package – but as before, if you’re concerned about moles and want to have peace of mind then it’s a worthwhile investment.


3. Keep hydrated – The sun can take it’s toll on your hydration levels and this can have an effect on your skin along with other things like headaches and heatstroke. It’s all too easy to crave a cool diet coke or maybe cheeky glass of Pimms when the mercury rises. But it makes it even more vital to make sure you make an effort to stay hydrated with the classic H20 too. If days are anything like this week’s heatwave (today the temperature in London hit 32 degrees) then you will likely be sweating it out more than usual too. So replace those lost fluids and reap the benefits of everything from plump skin, bright eyes and skip the heat wave caused headaches too.

4. Cover up – I know it sounds seriously simple, and it really is. But even when it’s toasty taking a lightweight cotton shirt or straw hat can be an absolute saviour for those burn-prone areas of scalp and shoulders. Sometimes there’s nothing better for your skin than actually covering up the area and keeping it protected from the direct sun. Sometimes it’s easy to think it’s so hot last thing I want is to be wearing MORE layers or clothes, but actually keeping the direct sun off of skin can overall cool you down. I’m definitely a total advocate for a white cotton shirt on even the hottest of days. A hat for covering your head and scalp is SO handy too – my scalp is sensitive at the best of times but one of those areas (naturally being the closest to the sun…) that can be so prone to burning. I’d always recommend not forgetting some trusty SPF along the scalp, or a protection product through the hair and scalp but beyond that – a hat can be the perfect cover all for a potentially delicate area of skin. If you have ever burnt your scalp before then you will be with me on the whole ‘ouch’ factor that you won’t want to happen again.

5. Be sensible – I know, sounds like boring old Captain Obvious over here strikes again. But sometimes it really is as simple as keeping your wits about you when in the sun and not getting carried away. Put reminders on your phone of when you last applied sun protection, stay in the shade and just don’t forget it. I know at the weekend I saw a number of people with those tell tale red patches that are most likely a combination of ‘forgetting’ to apply, not applying enough and taking for granted that the British sun isn’t actually as intense as it can be. If you’re prone to burning – go as far as asking those around you to remind you (friends, not random strangers…that would be odd) you need to re-apply. Especially important if you are enjoying a few of those cheeky pimms in the sun that I mentioned…. a couple of those and it’s all too easy to forget you’re in the sun! Don’t take it for granted – really, it’s not worth the burn.

If you’re keen to read a few more handy tips on how you can keep your hair and skin protected on holiday then do check out an article I wrote for James Villa Holidays over on their blog.

Always like to be totally clear on the whole disclosure front – so the article I wrote for James Villa Holidays was paid for, but this post is not sponsored. Just wanted to give a little shout out to the piece 🙂 

*PR sample or gift




  1. July 20, 2016 / 10:04 am

    I am heading off to Vegas this summer and I know it will be SO hot, so I am now going to invest in a white cotton shirt to chuck over myself! Thank you for the tips – they’re really helpful!

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