Think Australia’s sunny? Our UV index level will shock you. By Dawn Chen
Photo: Igor Kovalchuk / www.123rf.com
Created by the World Health Organization, the UV Index (UVI) is a measure of the level of UV radiation in an area. The values range from zero upwards, and the higher the UVI recorded, the greater the potential for damage to your skin and eyes, and the less time it takes for harm to occur. In short, this means that living in a country with a higher UVI puts you at greater risk of UV damage that can lead to conditions like skin cancer. Oh, and you’re likelier to get sunburnt quicker too. Fun.
Generally, a UVI of 1-2 indicates low UV exposure, 3-5 indicates moderate UV exposure, 6-7 indicates high exposure, 8-10 indicates very high exposure, and anything beyond 11 indicates extreme UV exposure. Now guess where Singapore’s UVI stands on this spectrum? A whopping 11.5, which makes us a country with one of the world’s highest UVI scores. For comparison, Australia’s UVI is only 8.41.
Given that Singapore has such high UV levels all year round (UVI also tends to drop during winter months), it is extra important for us to be vigilant in sun protection. Doing so not only prevents and reduces the harmful effects of UV damage, but may even improve your skin tone over time. According to a small study done by the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc., daily use of photo-stable broad-spectrum sunscreen can actually help to erase some of the visible signs of photo-ageing!
Opt for a product that offers both UVA and UVB protection like the Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF50+/PA++++ ($31.90, leading pharmacies and supermarkets from March 2017 onwards). Made in Korea, this mineral (physical) sunscreen protects skin with zinc oxide. The hypoallergenic formula is also PABA-, oil- and- fragrance-free, and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
And once you’re out, don’t forget to periodically reapply sunscreen throughout the day. If you can’t stand the goopy texture of lotion formulas, use a sunscreen spray instead and mist generously. After all, sunscreen is still the most effective way to prevent skin cancer!