Swimming, sport or just lying on a blanket in the park. It doesn’t matter as long as there is plenty of sunshine, because it makes us feel good. Sunshine also helps the body to produce the all-important vitamin D. But, as ever, it’s the dose that matters, because too much sun can be dangerous.
This year the summer is breaking so many records, with the thermometer showing daytime temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius. At night the heat that has built up during the day makes us restless, preventing us from sleeping properly. The sensation of dripping with sweat becomes an everyday experience. No wonder that bathing lakes and open-air swimming pools are so popular. There’s plenty going on at Rhine kilometer 167 in Basel, too. There are more locals and tourists on the Rhine promenade than in previous years, all sporting brightly-colored waterproof rucksacks and swimming gear. It’s officially permitted to swim in the Rhine here, and architecture student Tainara Lebert-Marins makes full use of the opportunity.
“I don’t think anything can beat a swim in the Rhine at the end of a long, hot day,” says Tainara, who is 24 years old, has roots in Brazil and is spending a few months as an intern at a Swiss architects’ office in Basel. “You can float through the city in the Rhine, and the water is so refreshing.” She is holding a bottle of sun protection despite the time of day – it’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon. “I never swim in sunlight without putting on sun protection first. My father is a dermatologist and taught me as a child never to go outdoors without a sunscreen on,” she explains.
She puts her clothes and a towel into a "Wickelfisch", a German brand of fish-shaped swimming bags that are impervious to water, and then picks up the bottle of sun cream. “About eight years ago I burned my shoulders badly while playing tennis in my home town Baden-Baden. It was so painful I couldn’t lie on my back for days. Since then I have always used sun cream with sun protection factor 50 – to be on the safe side.”
Wear sunscreen every time you are outside, on both sunny and cloudy days."
“It’s very important to use the right protection against UV rays and wear sunscreen every time you are outside, on both sunny and cloudy days,” says Teresa Gonzalez Ruiz, U.S. Sun Care VP, Bayer Consumer Health. “We’ve made it our number one priority at Coppertone® to ensure people can enjoy their time outdoors with a wide range of quality sunscreens.”
“With my Brazilian background I’m the sort of person whose skin doesn’t tend to go red quickly in the sun. But the sunburn I got playing tennis made such a lasting impression that I always err on the side of caution now,” Tainara explains. That’s why she also applies sun cream before she plays tennis or goes running. She trains in the early evening. “It’s too hot at midday, and that’s when the sun is at its most powerful. There are good reasons for avoiding the midday sun.”
What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
UV rays (ultraviolet rays) are not all the same, even if it’s not possible to tell the difference with the naked eye. The main distinction is made between UVA and UVB radiation. UVA light accounts for 95 percent of the rays that reach the earth’s surface. While these rays can pass through clouds and panes of glass, they do not cause sunburn. However, they do penetrate down to the deeper layers of our skin, where they can cause long-term changes potentially leading to visible patches of pigmentation and skin cancer.
It’s the UVB rays that are the major factor in sunburn. They account for just 5 percent of all the UV rays that reach us, but they are many times more intensive. On the one hand they give us a sun tan, but they also turn our skin red and, worse still, cause sun burn, allergic reactions and skin cancer. So it’s important to make sure when buying sun protection products that they provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
Unfortunately, not everyone remembers to keep out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. In addition, a lot of people don't apply sun protection until they're already lying in the sun. Most sunscreens need to be applied 15 minutes before sunbathing, and the application needs to be generous – it takes at least 30 ml to protect the whole body, and the product should ideally be re-applied every two hours and even sooner, if you have been swimming.
Sunscreen product selection is essential, too. It’s important to select a broad spectrum sunscreen, like the Coppertone SPORTTM collection, which offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays, is water resistant and will stay on even when you sweat. Most dermatologists recommend a SPF of 30 or higher. For additional protection, try to wear a hat, sunglasses and sun protective clothing.
Tainara also makes sure her facial moisturizer contains a sun protection factor that is high enough. I’d rather protect my skin from wrinkles, premature aging and, potentially, skin cancer,” she says. And that’s why she’s now going to reapply her sun cream before she dips back into the Rhine to cool off again.