Why aren’t men wearing sunscreen? Do we feel that as our skin is thicker we are at less risk than women? Do we believe that our high level of testosterone will protect us from the suns rays? Is it girly to apply an SPF?

The sad fact is that men diagnosed with melanoma aged 15 to 39 are 55 percent more likely to die from melanoma than females of the same age group. Skin cancer is one of  the most common cancers in the USA. Sadly, most sun protection advertising campaigns are still directed at women and children rather than men, feeding in to the misconception that men do not need to protect themselves from the sun.

We can take simple steps to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays by applying a suitable SPF every day. SPF stands for sun protection factor; the level of SPF tells you how long you can stay in the sun. For example, if you experience sunburn after 5 minutes in the sun without any SPF, using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 would protect you for 30 x 5 minutes (approx 150 minutes) before you start burn. You would reapply the SPF before the 150 minutes was up. If swimming or sweating in the heat excessively you would have to apply more often to ensure you are fully protected.

Purchasing moisturisers or tinted creams with an added SPF of 15 is simply not enough as these are generally applied once during the day. A moisturiser with added SPF is not a sunscreen in its own right, they are 2 separate products. While they may give you a small amount of temporary protection you still need to apply a dedicated SPF product. After washing and moisturising in the morning an SPF needs to be applied to all areas of exposed skin even if you are not planning on sitting in the sun. Sunscreen should be used all year round as the sun’s rays still cause damage even in the winter or on cloudy days. It is interesting to note that Ireland (not known for its sunny climate) has the highest rate of deaths from melanoma in Europe with an average of 160 people dying from the disease per year.

Select a sunscreen with a minimum of factor 15 if you have darker skin or 30 if you have a lighter skin-tone, if you are very fair selecting a factor 50 is best. Applying SPF does not prevent you from tanning as is often believed. It is best to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day (between 12:00 and 3:00 pm) and reapply frequently throughout the day if sitting in the sun. Be safe in the sun!