Why sunscreen is not enough at midday?

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL

From where I live, going out at noon is really a skin hazard.  Because according to World Health Organization, our UV Index is high all year round; 10 being the lowest in December and 13 the highest during the months of March and April.  On top of that, it is well known that the intensity of UV radiation is highest at noon, which means, I get the sun’s rays heating straight down on me with very few of the rays getting scattered.  So whenever I’ve to pick my son at that hour from school, I not only make sure I have slapped on enough sunscreen on my face and hands, you can be sure to find me in a pair of sunglasses and carrying an umbrella too.  

UV Index of 6 is high
And that’s wise because according to the UV Index table seen below taken from Environmental Protection Agency, a UV Index of 6 and above is considered to contribute high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure.  Hence,  it is recommended that we avoid staying in the sun for too long during this time frame.  If we have to, then we should not only wear sunscreen, but have additional protective gear like sunglasses, hat or umbrella.   In fact, it is not only noon, but generally, if you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure.

UV Index  Exposure Level
  0 – 2    Low 
 3 – 5    Moderate 
  6 – 7    High 
  8 – 10     Very High 
  11+    Extreme 

Sunscreen optional when UV Index is below 2
But depending on where you live, or the seasons of the year, you maybe pretty safe as long as you’re using some sunscreen.  Some are even saying that you need not wear sunscreen if the UV Index is below 3.  So say it’s winter where you are and you think you want to go out without the sunscreen, well, my advice is you might want to check the UV Index for the day just to be sure. 

UV radiation more damaging for fair skin
The UV Index is an international standard measurement of how strong the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is at a particular place on a particular day.  You might also like to know that the higher the UV Index, the greater the dose rate of skin damaging (and eye damaging) UV radiation. Consequently, the higher the UV Index, the smaller the time it takes before skin damage occurs (source).  How much UV radiation is needed to actually damage one’s skin is dependant on several factors. But if you’re fairer, you definitely need more protection! (Double whammy for me!)

Weather forecast is not enough
So the next time you’re planning an outdoor activity, don’t just check the weather.  Check the UV Index too!  And today’s UV Index in Singapore is 7 according to weather.com.  Ladies, please remember your sunscreen and if possible, protect with more gear!

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