while out riding :: sun protection

Getting sunburnt while out riding can really take the shine off the whole day, to say nothing of the potential longer term skin damage, so with summer fast approaching I’ve decided to set aside a bit of time to look into how to protect my skin from sunburn.

Simple rules for safety in the sun?

My first port of call was to see what recommendations I could find on how enjoy being out & about on a sunny day without getting sizzled.  I’m a big fan of mnemonics to help me remember good advice and my favourite is that from the current NHS SunSMART message

  • Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
  • Make sure you never burn.
  • Aim to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses.
  • Remember to take extra care with children.
  • Then use factor 15+ sunscreen.

It’s not much of a surprise that it’s not all about slapping on some sun lotion at the start of the day, so what else can I do to help myself avoid the dreaded moment when I realise I’ve pushed the time limit too far and have headed into the ‘go pink and peel’ zone?

Hats. Lovely hats!

I love to wear a wide brimmed hat in sunny weather – they shade my eyes from the glare of the sun and also help to protect my face and back of my neck from burning, but how do I translate this sensibly to a jaunt on the bike?

There are a couple of possible solutions which have caught my eye, the first is from a company in the US called Da Brim, who design and sell “a detachable, secure-fitting helmet visor that allows air to circulate through the protective helmet’s vents.

There’s a full brim option

[img src=”http://www.bryht-design.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Da-Brim.jpg” alt=”” width=”400″  ]

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and also a visor option

[img src=”http://www.bryht-design.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Rezzo_Lady_1.jpg” alt=”” width=”400″]

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Another hat option is from Australian firm Treadley – helmet hats.  These are designed as a fitted cover that goes over the helmet which will provide all over protection including the helmet vents.

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[img src=”http://www.bryht-design.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Treadley-cover.jpg” alt=”” width=”400″ ]

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And I can’t resist including this – Uberhood has come up with an umbrella that can be fitted to a bike.

[img src=”http://www.bryht-design.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/uberhood-silver-lining.jpg” alt=”” width=”520″ ]

Added protection from Clothing

Fortunately these days there are so many technical fabrics available that it shouldn’t be too much of a chore (!) to find some cycle clothing that stylish and provides a level of UV protection.

Maloja Crocus TopThe Maloja range of cycle clothing recently caught my eye and their Crocus shirt provides a minimum UV protection of 40.

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Sunscreen Lotions & Potions

There’s a huge choice of sun lotions and creams in the shops so I really have no excuse not to find a suitable sunscreen to use.

The British Association of Dermatologists recommend “a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 as a satisfactory form of sun protection in addition to protective shade and clothing.”  The NHS advice is for an SPF of 15 or above.

I’ve checked out my skin type using the Cancer Research UK list of skin types and as I’m in the Type 1 category I am  going to err on the side of caution and will be opting for the 30+ option.  And having watched this short clip from the NHS on how to apply sunscreen I think I’ve been skimping a bit when applying it, so I’ll be using a more generous dollop of sunscreen from now on!

Carting around a full-sized bottle of lotion may be a bit of overkill for a jaunt out so a pocket-sized lotion is looking like a good option. After a quick search around for pocket-sized lotions I’m opting for buying a larger quantity and decanting some into a travel container – it has the advantage that if you use a see-through container you can see how much lotion you have left and don’t end up running out while out and about, and it also works out better value for money.

How do I work out the UV Level?

As it doesn’t need to be cloudless, bright sunny day for there to be high UV levels is there anything out there that can tell me the UV level as a helping hand in the ‘do I / don’t I apply some sunscreen’ dither that sometimes happens?

Yes!  There are Apps!  I’m now using the free World UV App and was a bit surprised at the UV levels even on overcast days.

World UV App

“The UV app has been created by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) in collaboration with the Met Office to provide the public with a free daily UV forecast for over 10,000 locations worldwide that can be accessed at the touch of your finger-tips.”

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My Checklist for a Happy Day’s Cycling in the Sun

It’s good news! There are some straightforward things I can do to give myself the best chance of avoiding sunburn while enjoying the sunny weather, so here’s my “no more sunburn while out riding … ever” checklist:

  1. Get the correct SPF lotion for my skin type, carry it with me and slather it on generously
  2. Where possible choose clothing that provides some UV protection
  3. Seek out a sun visor or brim for my cycle helmet
  4. Use a free App to check on the UV levels
  5. Try and stay out of the sun at the time of day when UV levels are at their greatest;  never heard a better reason for a lovely bike ride with a leisurely lunch part way through!