If you're on holiday or enjoy outdoor activities such as golf, sailing or tennis, you should of course protect all parts of your body exposed to the sun. By far the best means of protection is to avoid direct sunlight and seek the shade, especially between 10am and 4pm. 'Textile sun protection' with long-sleeved shirts, long skirts and trousers and hats with large, shady brims is also good, although the SPF of your clothing depends on a variety of factors such as colour and how tightly woven it is.
But sun avoidance and textile sun protection is not always possible or practical, so the next best thing is to apply sun protection products. This is very important for hands too, because they're constantly exposed. Make sure your body protection product is sweat and waterproof, provides broadband protection (UVA, UVB) and has an SPF of at least 20. Apply the sun protection product 30 minutes before you go out into the sun, then reapply every two hours to keep the protection level optimal. And be generous. Studies report that many of us unwittingly risk damaging our skin because we don't use enough product to achieve the level of protection stated on the tube.
Protecting your skin from the sun is the single, most important thing you can do to keep it healthy and young-looking. Conscientious sun protection not only helps prevent signs of environmental ageing - think brown spots, wrinkles and loose, crêpy skin - it also protects against sun burn and lowers the risk of skin cancer. However, scientific studies have shown that not only sunburn is dangerous. In fair skins, even tanning is known to be a sign of DNA damage.