Information, advice and support for young people

Sunbathing safely

Are you dying to get a gorgeous tan? You could be putting yourself at risk if you aren't sensible about sunbathing and protect yourself from the damaging effects of too much ultraviolet (UV) light.

Ultraviolet damage

UV light is the agent found in sunlight that creates sun tanning and burning. It's also what sunbeds use to simulate sunlight and give you a tan.

Over-exposing your skin to UVA and UVB light can cause skin cancer and early aging. In particular UVB damages the DNA in your cells, which can cause tumours - sometimes years after increased exposure to the light.

Getting sunburnt doubles the risk of cancers forming - these can look like unusual growths, spots, sores or moles on the skin.

Dangers of sunbeds

Sunbeds are twice as likely to cause skin cancer as sunbathing in the Mediterranean, scientists say. If you’re under 18 it is now illegal in the UK to use, buy or hire one.

The intensity of UV light in sunbeds is 10 to 15 times higher than in sunlight. Your eyes can also be damaged by the UV light from sunbeds if you don’t wear protective goggles.

Protect yourself

Whether you're at home or abroad, you can still enjoy the sunshine with these tips:
  • use a water-resistant UVA and B sunscreen of at least SPF 30 for best protection. The higher the SPF, the more effective the sun protection
  • put in on all parts of your skin that are in the sun, and reapply through the day, especially after a swim as it might wash off (even if it’s water resistant)
  • stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm – it’s at its most dangerous then
  • don't try to get burnt - a lot of young people think that burning = tanning. You don’t need to burn so you can tan
  • wear a hat or cap to keep the heat off your head, and look stylish with sunglasses

Faking it

There is a totally safe way of getting a tan - out of a bottle! There are many fake tan brands available so you can get that bronzed look overnight, including sprays, mousses and moisturising creams.