How can you reduce your risk of getting skin cancer?

Over 80% of all skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to UV radiation from the sun and/or sunbeds. This means that the majority of all skin cancers are preventable by undertaking simple sun safety measures. In this final blog in this series for Sun Awareness Week, we explore the measures you can take to protect your skin and reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.

 Protecting your skin

The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV from sunlight or sunbeds. Remember it’s not just sunbathing that puts you at risk but just being in the sun without adequate protection. 

If you take part in outdoor hobbies or sports such as golf, cricket, bowls, fishing or gardening for example, or have an outdoor job, you will be at greater risk. To keep safe and make sure you NEVER BURN you should follow ‘The Five S’s of Sun Safety’. 

The Five S’s of Sun Safety

  1. SLIP on a t-shirt

  2. SLOP on the sunscreen

  3. SLAP on a broad brimmed hat

  4. SLIDE on quality sunglasses

  5. SHADE from the sun when possible


  • On clothing which acts as an effective barrier protecting our skin from the sun.

  • Shoulders are easily burned, so try to keep them covered.

  • Close weave fabrics provide better protection.


  • Apply SPF 30 + broad spectrum, 4-star + rated, waterproof sunscreen every two hours. Make sure that the sunscreen has a UVA symbol.

  • Never rely on sunscreen alone to protect your skin.


  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears. Please note that baseball caps do not provide adequate shade.

  • A close weave or UPF rated fabric provides the best protection.


  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays.

  • Look for the European CE mark, which indicates a safe level of protection.

  • Sunglasses labelled with a high EDF (which ranges from 1-10) will provide the best protection.


  • Seek shade, particularly between 11am and 3pm when UV penetration is at its strongest.

  • Always keep babies and toddlers in the shade.

  • Never rely on shade alone, always combine with personal protection measures.

Applying sunscreen

Apply your Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30+ sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and always reapply at least every two hours. It is important to use a generous amount, the average sized adult should apply at least a teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm, leg, front and back of body and at least half a teaspoon to the face (not forgetting the ears and neck). If you apply the sunscreen too thinly it will reduce the SPF factor.

Choosing the right sunscreen

  • Choose a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF), most fair skinned people will need SPF 30 or higher to stop from burning in the summertime.

  • Choose a sunscreen product with a superior UVA 4-5 star rated protection symbol.

 choosing the right sunscreen 2


You should regularly check your skin once a month, please click here on how to do this. We recommend that you should see a skin expert annually who will be able to investigate any suspicious moles or lesions and who will be able to flag up any potential problems.

If you are concerned about any moles or lesions after your self-examination consult your GP immediately.  Check4Cancer offers SkinCheck a private skin cancer screening service for anyone who wants a specialist review of the appearance of their skin or moles.  You can find out more about SkinCheck here.