Being SunSmart: At a glance

Why be SunSmart?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Ireland. Yet, in most cases, it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. You can reduce your risk by avoiding overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from sunlight or artificial sources e.g. sunbeds.

Reduce your risk, protect your skin: Be SunSmart

UV cannot be seen or felt, so you need to defend yourself against overexposure.

Know the UV index

The UV index is a scale that measures the UV level at the surface of the Earth, and gives an indication of the potential for skin damage. When the UV index is 3 or above, protection is required.

Learn more about the UV index.  

In Ireland, make sun protection part of your daily routine particularly form April-September, when the UV index is usually 3 or above, even when it is cloudy. Stay safe by limiting time in the midday sun when UV is strongest, typically between the hours of 11:00am-3:00pm.

Remember the 5 ‘Ss’ of sun safety: Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide

  • Slip on clothing: Cover skin as much as possible e.g. wear long sleeves, collared t-shirts, clothes made from close-woven material that does not allow sunlight through.
  • Slop on broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30+ for adults and 50+ for children, with high UVA protection, and water resistant. Reapply regularly.
  • Slap on a hat with a wide brim: Protect your face, ears and neck.
  • Seek shade: Sit in cover of trees to avoid direct sunlight and use a sunshade on your buggy or pram. Keep babies and children out of direct sunlight.
  • Slide on sunglasses with UV protection: Guard your eyes from harm.

Protect your family

Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable to sun exposure.

Remember: Do not deliberately try to tan. No sunbathing, no sun burning and never ever use a sunbed!

Most people don’t apply sunscreen correctly – here’s how it’s done:

Correct amount: You should apply at least 1 teaspoon to each body part:

  • Head/Face/Neck
  • Each Arm
  • Each Leg
  • Your Front
  • Your Back

Correct locations: Don’t forget your ears, your nose, your lips (choose a broad-spectrum lip balm), your neck, the tops of your feet and (if your hair is thinning) your scalp!

Correct timing: Apply sunscreen at least 20-30 minutes before you go out in the sun.

Correct frequency: Reapply sunscreen frequently, at least every 2 hours and after exercising, sweating, swimming, or towel drying.

Correct use: Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security! No sunscreen can provide 100% UV protection. Broad-spectrum sunscreen should be used alongside other protective measure such as clothing and shade.

Know your medications: some medicines can increase sensitivity to sunlight.


Next article: Clouds, water, glass: surprising things that solar UV can pass through

We want everyone in Ireland to learn to Protect & Inspect their skin! Read our short guide, written with hospital-based dermatologists about protecting and checking your skin.   

Click for more about Protect & Inspect!