Why dermatologists say you shouldn’t rely on aftersun

When heading off on a sun holiday, most of us will have ‘aftersun’ as a packing list priority. However, dermatologists say that most people are relying on aftersun too much, and that it’s not the panacea some travellers seem to consider it.

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Dermatologists warn of sun danger. Image by Guido Mieth/Getty Images

People’s awareness of the many issues caused by exposure to UV light has risen considerably in recent years. However, some sun worshippers seem to think that slathering on some aloe vera gel after a long session in the heat will reverse any damage. Dermatologists have confirmed that this is definitely not the case.

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Protection from the sun is vital. Image by firemanYU/Getty Images

Dr Thivi Maruthappu, British Skin Foundation spokesperson and consultant dermatologist told Refinery 29: “there is absolutely a misconception that it is okay to get sunburnt and then apply aftersun later to 'repair' the damage. However, it’s impossible for a cream to actually repair DNA damage, as UV rays damage skin cells by causing mutations in DNA.”

She goes on to say that an accumulation of skin damage caused by UV rays is “the single most important risk factor for skin cancer. In fact, getting sunburnt once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer”.

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There are many ways to prevent sun damage. Image by dlewis33/Getty Images

So, although aftersun can provide cooling and moisturising benefits, dermatologists strongly recommend that sunseekers:

 - Apply sunscreen every day that you will be in the sun and reapply regularly (apply 30 minutes before sun exposure, and top up every two hours after that)

 - Don’t forget to slap some on your feet and ears

 - Don’t go lighter on application, or lower on the SPF value as you start to tan

 - Seek shade during the hottest times of the day (siesta anyone?)

 - Make sure to pick up some lip balm with SPF in it as well as sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays

 - And also be sure to choose a sunscreen that's environmentally-friendly