Sun protection tips for gardeners

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Sunscreen

Aim high

Always wear a broad spectrum high factor sunscreen of at least SPF30 at all times, and a sunblock on your ears, nose and lips which are prone to burning.

Reapply regularly

Once applied to the skin, the active ingredients in sunscreen last approximately 2 hours and less if you are prone to excessive sweating or simply working hard in the garden. Reapply regularly and check for signs of sunburn (which you will need to cover up).

Helping hand

Full body sun protection is important and certain areas like the neck and arms are especially vulnerable. If you find it difficult to reach those tricky places, get someone else to do the honours and follow suit, or simply wear protective clothing.

Happy feet

Feet and hands are vulnerable to the sun and are a common place for skin cancer, ageing and age spots. Remember to protect with sunscreen after washing hands or taking off shoes half way through the day.

Come cloud or shine

Dangerous UV rays penetrate cloud, haze and fog. Don’t be caught out – use adequate sun protection on cloudy as well as on sunny days.

Clear as day

Greenhouse glass does not protect your skin against UV rays so if you’re planning on spending time under glass, take the same precautions as if you were gardening outside.

Don't be out of date

The active ingredients in sunscreen deteriorate overtime. All brands have an expiry date and using it after this date may make the application ineffective, so check and if out of date, dispose of responsibly.

Sun time

High noon

Avoid the sun at its strongest between 11am and 3pm. On particularly hot days, instead of sweating it out, plan shed based gardening activities around these times or just take a siesta.

Shady

If you are gardening in an area which receives full sun, why not put up a makeshift umbrella/parasol, sun tent/gazebo or choose a spot in the shade instead? As well as being protected from sunburn, this also gives the advantage of helping you staying cooler. Remember: Although shade offers some protection, you’re still in danger of ‘reflective radiation’ so ensure that your skin is protected.

Protective clothing

Head and shoulders

Sunscreen doesn’t offer 100% protection and should be used in addition to protective clothing. Wear a protective hat at all times; your forehead, scalp and ears are high risk areas for skin cancers, and even more so if you are bald or have thinning hair, so wear something with a legionnaire flap at the back. A hat will also protect your hair from drying out and becoming brittle.

Wear it well

Wear clothing that protects arms, legs and hands; ideally choose a UVP branded product as this will offer higher protection. Remember too that not all colours provide the same amount of protection. Darker colours will stop more of the sun’s rays than lighter colours.

On guard!

Nose guards may not be the height of fashion, but they offer gardeners complete nose protection. They are extremely thin, comfortable and adjust to any sunglass shape.

The eyes have it

Your eyes should be protected too. There has been an increase in the early formation of cataracts which has been specifically related to prolonged sun exposure over recent years. Wear wraparound sunglasses with a good quality UVA blocking filter.

General sun sense

Clock it

Time flies when you’re preoccupied in the garden, so add a timer on your phone or watch to remind you to reapply sunscreen every hour or so and to seek shade during the hottest part of the day.

Ice and easy

Have a large jug of cool water ready, next to your sunscreen; this will entice you to take shade regularly and it will keep you hydrated, which is essential.

Sunshade

Remember that the sun moves during the day. What was the shade in the early morning will not be a few hours later so keep an eye on the shade you have and if possible plan around it.

Forever young

Sunbathing or not using adequate sun protection on a regular basis is a great way to prematurely age your skin, top up on your age spots and add to your thread veins. This is not to mention heightening the possibility of developing something a lot more serious.

Last but not least…

Get outdoors and enjoy the sun, but remember to respect and care for your skin just as much as you do your plants!

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