The effect of sun on your body – And how to protect your skin

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Sun protection isn’t just for sunbathers. It’s important to give any part of our body that is exposed to the sun the protection it needs. This article looks at how to protect your body, how to choose the right products to suit your skin type and condition and how to apply products to ensure they continue to protect your skin all day long.

How does the sun effect skin on the body?

UV rays can damage skin’s structure and appearance
Body skin requires a different type of sun protection to facial skin
Like your face, your décolleté is regularly exposed to the sun

Sun, in moderation, is good for our health but over-exposure to the sun’s rays can cause both short- and long-term skin damage. You can read about how the sun affects skin, both on the surface and at a cellular level, in How do UVA, UVB and HEVIS light rays affect skin?

Not all skin reacts in the same way to the sun. Our age as well as our skin type and condition can make us more sensitive to exposure. You can find out more in Sensitive skin: why does it need daily sun protection? and Why do babies and children need special sun protection?

The skin on some parts of the body is more sensitive to the sun, and more susceptible to sun damage, than skin in other areas. Facial and body skin have different needs when it comes to sun protection. Facial skin is thinner and, being mostly uncovered, is exposed to the sun on a daily basis. It needs dedicated sun protection and you can find out more in Why do I need daily sun protection for my face?

Body skin is thicker and, in general, is less exposed to the environment. There are, of course, some notable exceptions such as our hands, arms and décolleté and these areas need particular care. People who live in sunnier climates and/or people who spend a lot of time outdoors should also be mindful of how they protect their skin.

The sun also affects different skin types and conditions in different ways and you can read more about this in sensitive skin: why does it need daily sun protection?

How can I protect my body from the sun?

Wear protective clothing and sun hats to reduce skin damage
Choose a sun protection product specially formulated for your skin type and condition
Sun protection isn’t just for sunbathers: people who work or exercise outdoors need to protect their skin

Adopting a sensible attitude to the sun is the best way to minimize the risk of sun damage to skin:

  • Avoid overexposure to the sun and keep out of direct sunlight during its most intense hours.
  • Keep skin covered with protective clothing, including a sun hat and glasses, whenever possible.
  • Use a sun protection product that offers the appropriate level of protection for your skin and the external conditions and that, ideally, has been specially formulated to suit your skin type and condition. 
  • Apply sun protection thoroughly, and re-apply regularly, to ensure you maintain the level of coverage.
  • Remember that sun damage isn’t just for sunbathers. Harmful rays can still affect skin on cloudy days, so any part of your body that is regularly exposed (your hands, arms and décolleté for example) should be given appropriate protection.
  • Apply an Afer Sun afer exposure to help care for your skin.

For advice on how to care for your face in the sun read Why do I need daily sun protection for my face? To find out the best ways to protect young skin read Why do babies and children need special sun protection?

How should I choose the right sun protection product for my body?

Look out for products that:

UVA and UVB protection and HEVIS light defense for your body

Most of the products in Eucerin’s superior sun protection range include Eucerin’s innovative Advanced Spectral Technology which combines broadband and photostable UVA/UVB filters1 for reliable UV protection with antioxidant Licochalcone A, a powerful anti-oxidant that works to neutralize free radicals caused by UV and HEVIS light. Several of the products also include Glycyrrhetinic Acid which supports skin’s own DNA repair mechanism.


1 Meeting the high standards for UVA and UVB protection defined by Cosmetics Europe. The levels of UVA protection are higher than the EU recommendation.

The appropriate level of protection for your skin

Sunscreens are available in four different levels of protection: low (factor 6 to 10), medium (15 to 25), high (30 to 50) and very high (50+). The higher the protection factor the better your skin is protected.

Choose a level of protection that:

  • suits your skin’s needs: for example, pale skin or skin that is particularly sensitive to the sun benefits from very high sun protection
  • takes into account the intensity of the sun and the amount of time you are going to be in it: sun is at its strongest during the summer months, at high altitudes and when you are closest to the equator

The Eucerin sun protection range includes a comprehensive selection of body products that offer medium, high and very high levels of sun protection.

Sun protection for your body that’s tailored to your skin type and condition

Skin benefits from sun protection products that are specially formulated to address its specific needs.

Oily and/or acne-prone skin

Look out for lighter textured products and ensure they’re ‘non-comedogenic’ (which means they don’t contain ingredients that might block pores and trigger blemishes). Eucerin Sun Spray Transparent Sensitive Protect SPF 50 or SPF 30 and Eucerin Sun Spray Transparent Dry Touch Sensitive Protect SPF 50 or SPF 30 have been specially formulated for oily/acne-prone skin on your body. Find out more in oily and acne-prone skin: why does it need daily sun protection?

Premature aging

The sun is responsible for 90% of premature skin aging2. You can find out more in What causes photoaging and how can I prevent it? In addition to offering Advanced Spectral Technology and supporting skin’s own DNA repair mechanism, Eucerin Sun Lotion Extra Light Photoaging Control SPF 50+ or SPF 30 contain short- and long-chain Hyaluronic Acid to visibly reduce the signs of skin aging on your body.

Sun allergies

Many people find that their skin develops an itchy, red rash when it’s exposed to the sun. You can find out more about Polymorphous Light Eruption (or PLE), the most common sun allergy in, Sun allergies: how can I prevent PLE and protect my allergy prone skin? Eucerin Sun Creme-Gel Sun Allergy Protect SPF 50 or SPF 25 contain AlphaGlucosylrutin which helps to reduce the risk of sun-induced allergies.

Children’s skin

You can read all about why children’s skin needs dedicated sun protection, and discover the Eucerin Kids Sun range, in Why do babies and children need special sun protection?

Dry and atopic skin

The sun causes skin to dry out further and can exacerbate dry skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis. There are both adult and children’s products in the range that are ideal for sun protection for those with Atopic Dermatitis. For adult skin try Eucerin Sun Lotion Extra Light Sensitive Protect SPF 50+ and SPF 30 or Eucerin Sun Spray Sensitive Protect SPF 50+ and SPF30.

All Eucerin body products are clinically and dermatologically proven to be suitable for sensitive skin.

You can find out about Eucerin sun products for facial skin in Why do I need daily sun protection for my face?


2 Ramos-e-Silva et al., ‘Anti-aging cosmetics: Facts and controversies’. Clin Dermatol. 2013 Nov-Dec; 31(6): 750-8

Eucerin’s superior sun protection range

Additional benefits that meet your suncare needs

Eucerin sun protection products are water-resistant

People like to apply sun protection in different ways and so Eucerin sun products come in a range of different formats, from creamy lotions to dry touch sprays. The range includes both lightly-fragranced and unperfumed products to suit both preferences. All our body sun protection products are water-resistant.

Several of our products also include our new ‘Anti-Stain After Wash` technology which helps to reduce the intensity of sunscreen stains after washing so your clothes stay looking their best for longer.3 Read more in Sunscreen stains: how can I protect my clothes from yellow marks?


3 In the following adult body products: Eucerin Sun Lotion Extra Light Photoaging Control SPF 50+/30 and Eucerin Sun Lotion Extra Light Sensitive Protect SPF 50+/30. In the following children’s products: Eucerin Kids Sun Lotion Extra Light Sensitive Protect SPF 50+, Eucerin Kids Sun Lotion Sensitive Protect SPF 50+, Eucerin Kids Sun Spray Sensitive Protect SPF 50+.

Does it matter how I apply sun protection to my body?

It’s important to use sufficient product, to apply it thoroughly and to reapply it at regular intervals to ensure that all exposed areas get the protection they need. 

What is the right amount of product for my body?

The right amount of product obviously depends on your size, the number of areas that need covering and on the format of the product. As a general rule we recommend the following for adults:

Cream, lotion or gel

An amount about the size of a golf ball to cover your entire body. For each specific area (2-11) on the diagram below use a thick line of sunscreen that stretches from the tip of your middle finger to your wrist.

Non-aerosol fluid spray

Hold the pump quite close to your body and spray approximately 15 times for each area (2-11) on the diagram below.

Aerosol spray

The continuous, multi-position aerosol spray helps you to reach those parts that are easy to miss. Move it around your body until all relevant areas are covered.

For area 1, the face and neck, we recommend you use one our facial sun protection products. We explain why in Why do I need daily sun protection for my face?

Why is it important to apply and reapply sun protection thoroughly and regularly?

It’s easy to miss difficult to reach areas such as the shoulders
Eucerin research4 indicates that, on average, approximately 14% of the back of the female body and 22% of the back of the male body is regularly exposed to the sun’s rays without any protection whatsoever. 4. Internal Beiersdorf study of 2016 on the use of sun protection amongst a sample of 52 (29 women, 23 men)

It’s easy to forget your décolleté, arms and hands on moderately sunny days or your legs if you are wearing shorts. And, when sunbathing, areas such as the back and shoulders as well as your hands and feet, the backs of the arms and the areas at the edges of swimwear are easy to miss.

All Eucerin sun protection products start working as soon as they are applied so there’s no need to wait before you go in the sun. We recommend that you reapply at least every two hours (and more if you’re regularly bathing and toweling yourself dry) to maintain the initial levels of protection.

Important Information

Don’t forget to protect your hands, even on days when you’re fully clothed and not applying sun protection elsewhere on your body. When you apply your daily facial SPF product be sure to rub it into the backs of your hands too. 

A superior sun protection product, applied thoroughly and regularly, combined with a sensible approach to how long you spend in the sun will help you to keep your skin healthy   and looking young for longer.

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