We've all heard about the dangers of UV rays and going out in the sun without wearing any SPF but why to so many of us continue to ignore these warnings in the quest for the perfect tan? According to a recent survey by Boots Soltan we are buying more sunscreen than ever before, which is great, buy many of us are still not using it properly, not so great! 

When we are in the UK we are less likely to reapply suncream throughout the day, even if you're lucky enough not to have been burnt that doesn't mean you've escaped the damage. Most of us also keep our sunscreen for years which is another no-no. Most products will lose their effectiveness after 12 months - as indicated by the symbol on the back on the tube - so if you'e still applying that old bottle of suncream you found lurking about in the back of the cabinet then stop now, because it's probably not providing you any protection anyway. If you tend to forget when you've opening which product, then try writing the month and year on the top. You should also make sure you're wearing sunscreen every day, no matter what the weather or if you're only spending a short time outdoors - as UV rays can still penetrate through glass. Aim for SPF15 everyday, and increase the factor when the weather gets hotter or if you're spending a long time in the sun. Perhaps worst of all, many of us use sunscreen to get a safe tan - but there really is no such thing.

How Does The Sun Damage Skin?

When UV rays hit your skin it responds by producing melatin, this is your skin's first line of defence and what also gives you a tan. Your skin burns when you've reached your level of safe exposure. Repeated sun exposure without proper protection causes noticeable changes to the skin including, pigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, spider veins on the face and skin texture becomes rougher and drier. 

Ageing caused by sun exposure is called photo-ageing, this happens over a number of years and is affected by factors such as your skin tone and the amount of time you spend in the sun. Even if you've spent a lot of time in the sun and haven't experienced any of these side effects don't think you've escaped the damage, as you age it will only become more noticeable. UV rays cause collagen, which keeps skin plump and smooth, to break down and over time the skin loses its' ability to repair itself.

What Can You Do?

Luckily most of this damage is easy to prevent. It starts with simply wearing sunscreen everyday will help protect your skin from damaged UVA and UVB rays, even if you've already gone years without wearing any protection you should still start now. A lot of products for the face now come with added SPF, including make-up and moisturisers, so even swapping your products for ones that have this added protection is a good start. Apply sunscreen everyday to any area not covered by clothing, pay particular attention to your décolletage and your hands as the skin is thinner here. If you're going to be spending a lot of time outdoors then try to seek shade during the hottest part of the day, and remember to drink plenty of water. 

It may seem like a lot of hard work now, and maybe some of you are sad to think of giving up your tan but don't be, in the years to come your skin will look much healthier and if you still want a sunkissed glow, well... You can always fake it!

If we still haven't managed to convince you that you need to be wearing SPF everyday, then this video may change your mind about skipping the suncream.