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With summer just around the corner and an alleged chance of enjoying more than the odd day of sun, the yogic phrase ‘atapa snana’ (the healing science of sunbathing) becomes particularly relevant.

However, whilst it’s important to recognise the sun’s ability to heal all kinds of illnesses and bring about radiant health, it’s just as important to remember that over-exposure to the sun’s damaging UV rays can lead to far more than a severe case of sunburn.

Did you know that a whopping 90% of the visible signs of ageing can be attributed to sun damage because UV (ultraviolet) rays enhance the breakdown of collagen which leads to wrinkles. The worst thing about UV rays is that you can’t feel them damaging your skin (UVB rays cause redness and burning whilst UVA rays cause premature ageing and skin cancer) and it can happen when the sun doesn’t feel particularly hot or on a cloudy day – UV rays can even penetrate through glass!

To avoid sun damage and stay safe in the sun, avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm when the rays are at their strongest and be extra cautious when close to water, sand or snow as they reflect the damaging rays which can increase your chances of sunburn. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. For incidental sun exposure – when you’re only outside for a few minutes at a time – an SPF of 15 is usually sufficient; for extended, intense exposure, opt for a broad-spectrum (meaning it effectively protects against significant portions of both the UVA and UVB ranges of the light spectrum), water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. SPF stands for sun protection factor and works as a measure of the amount of time you can spend in the sun before getting a sunburn. If you would normally burn in ten minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you can go up to 150 minutes in the sun before burning.

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