Fun in the sun?

We all like to look tanned and healthy. Yet we’re also very aware of the dangers posed by too much exposure to harmful UV rays. It was a surprise to learn, therefore, that 79% of people still labour under the misapprehension that you are less likely to get burned if you’re in water, be it the sea or a swimming pool.

The research was carried out for episode 5 of the MyFaceMyBody show, Britain’s only TV programme dedicated to cosmetic treatments and surgery, and also compared attitudes between New Zealand and the UK towards sun protection. Findings include:

•   93% of people from the southern hemisphere said they were concerned about skin cancer when exposing their bodies to the sun, compared to only 63% of people in the northern hemisphere.

•   New Zealanders are far more aware of sun protection than us Brits – only 65% of people in the UK wear the recommended SPF 30 on their face and SPF 15 on their body; in New Zealand 77% of people wear SPF 30 on their body and SPF 50 on their face.

•   A quarter of people in both the UK and New Zealand admitted they didn’t understand what the terms ‘UVA’ and ‘UVB’ mean, or their importance when choosing the correct sun protection lotions.

•   When asked what they do to protect themselves and their families from sun damage, 89% of Brits said they used sunscreen and 65% wear a hat but only 23% of people cover up with light clothing. Luckily only 4% of those questioned use no sun protection at all.

•   Of those over 50 who took part in the survey, 62% said that in their younger days they had used lemon juice, cooking oil and tin foil to increase their tan but almost half (47%) said they would not have used these methods if they’d known then how damaging the sun can be.

Having grown up in New Zealand where sun protection is taken very seriously indeed, I was surprised when I first moved to Britain at how lax many people are about the dangers posed by the sun’s rays, and these survey results have confirmed some of my worst fears. It appears that Britain has a lot to learn from New Zealand in terms of looking after their own - and their families - skin.

MyFaceMyBody airs on Tuesdays at 7.30pm on InformationTV, Sky Channel 166 and Freesat 402. The show, is repeated on Thursdays at 3pm and Sundays at 6.30pm as well as being available to watch on demand at the website

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