SunSmart

Be SunSmart and protect your skin from the sun

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and sunbeds can damage skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.

To reduce your risk of getting skin cancer:

  • protect your skin from the sun
  • never use a sunbed

How to protect your skin

Follow the SunSmart 5S rule: slip, slop, slap, seek and slide

  • Slip on clothes that cover your skin, such as long sleeves and t-shirts with a collar.
  • Slop on broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) water-resistant sunscreen. Apply it on skin that is not covered, using factor 30+ for adults, 50+ for children. Reapply every 2 hours or more often if sweating, swimming or towel drying.
  • Slap on a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears and neck.
  • Seek shade especially if outdoors between 11am and 3pm and always use a sunshade on a child’s buggy. Keep babies and children out of direct sunlight.
  • Slide on wraparound sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes.

No sunscreen can provide 100% protection and should be used alongside clothing and shade.

Check the UV index

The UV index tells you how strong the sun’s UV rays are each day.

You need to protect your skin when the UV index is 3 or above.

In Ireland, the UV index is usually 3 or above from April to September, even when it is cloudy. UV is usually strongest between 11am and 3pm.

Check the UV index on Met Éireann

How to prevent sunburn in children

Never use a sunbed

Sunbeds produce UV rays similar to sunshine, but stronger.

Using sunbeds increases your risk of getting skin cancer. All sunbed users are at risk.

Sunbeds can also age your skin and cause wrinkles and brown spots.

It is illegal for people under the age of 18 to use sunbeds in Ireland.

Remember:

  • do not try to get a suntan
  • avoid getting sunburnt
  • never use a sunbed

Who is at risk of skin cancer

Anyone can get skin cancer so everyone needs to protect their skin from UV light. But some people are more at risk than others.

Children and adolescents are more at risk.

You may also be more at risk if you:

  • have fair skin - burns easily and tans poorly
  • work outdoors
  • do outdoor sport and activities
  • sunbed use

SunSmart for children

Playing and spending time outdoors is good for your child. Protect their skin, even on cloudy days.

  • Keep children under age 1 in the shade. Dress them in protective clothing that covers their skin.
  • Keep babies up to 6 months old in the shade. Protect them with clothing rather than sunscreen.

If using sunscreen on small areas of exposed skin, use one for babies such as sensitive or toddler sunscreen.

Children’s skin is very sensitive to UV from the sun. Skin cancer in children is rare but sunburn during childhood increases your risk of getting skin cancer as an adult.

If your child is badly sunburnt more than 3 times before the age of 20, they more than double their risk of skin cancer as an adult.

SunSmart for adolescents and young people

Adolescents and young people spend more time in the sun than any other age group. But people age under 35 are less likely to use sun protection than older age groups.

Skin cancer is rare in adolescence. But exposure to UV radiation during adolescence is more likely to lead to skin cancer later in life.

If you are an adolescent or young person, make sun protection part of your daily routine. Getting too much sun can be harmful at any age.

Use the SunSmart 5S rule to protect your skin.

SunSmart for outdoor workers

Outdoor workers are more at risk of skin cancer as they spend a lot of time outdoors.

Outdoor workers include farmers, landscapers and construction workers.

If you work outdoors, try to plan your work so you are in the shade from 11am to 3pm, when UV rays are strongest.

Outdoor workers can be exposed to between 2-3 times more UV radiation than indoor workers.

SunSmart for people who do outdoor sport and activities

People involved in outdoor sports, recreation and tourism are more at risk of skin cancer.

The numbers of people involved in outdoor activities such as cycling, open water swimming and running has increased in recent years.

If you are involved in outdoor activities always protect your skin using the SunSmart 5S rule: slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.

Sunsmart resources

The National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2023-2026 provides information about how we are working to reduce skin cancer in Ireland. Find the Healthy Ireland SunSmart resources below for your use to reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

Posters and information leaflets on SunSmart are available to download or order printed resources at www.healthpromotion.ie Choose 'cancer' from the drop down menu.

Children resources

Most resources are now available to download and order on www.healthpromotion.ie. Choose 'cancer' from the drop down menu.

Adolescent and young people resources

Protect your skin from UV poster (PDF, 1 MB, 1 page)

Outdoor worker resources

The resources listed were developed for employers of outdoor workers to deliver a focused approach to support SunSmart awareness and behaviours among outdoor workers

SunSmart Toolbox Talk for Outdoor Workers

The SunSmart Toolbox Talk provides basic information for outdoor workers about their health risks of UV radiation and the importance of protecting the skin and eyes from UV radiation. Enter your details in the form linked below to request a copy of the SunSmart Toolbox Talk pack for your organisation. 

Request a copy the SunSmart Toolbox Talk pack

Resources for outdoor sport, recreation and tourism

 Outdoor sports and recreation organisations are encouraged to raise awareness of the risks of skin cancer and the simple SunSmart behaviours that can protect your skin.

Sunbed user resources

It is never ok to use a sunbed. Using sunbeds increases your risk of getting skin cancer. The earlier you start and the more often you use a sunbed, the greater the risk. The below resources were developed to deliver a focused approach to support SunSmart awareness and behaviours among sunbed users.

SunSmart campaign 2024

As part of the SunSmart campaign the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme, in collaboration with Healthy Ireland and cross-sectoral partners are working together to support people to protect their skin from the sun. The aim of the campaign is to increase awareness of the steps you and your family can take to protect your skin from the sun and reduce your risk of skin cancer in Ireland. Information on the SunSmart campaign 2024 is available below.

2024-SunSmart-partner-pack-.pptx (size 7.5 MB)

SunSmart campaign social media assets

General messaging:

Children/ Adolescents and young people messaging:

Outdoor workers / Outdoor sport, recreation and tourism messaging:

Sunbed users messaging

Social Media Videos

A wide range of SunSmart videos are available on the NCCP YouTube channel. Irish Skin Foundation have also developed a number of SunSmart videos available by clicking here 

SunSmart: Patient Skin Cancer Stories

More patient advocate stories are available on the NCCP YouTube channel

SunSmart branding

Healthy Ireland SunSmart (hi SunSmart) is the brand identity of Ireland’s National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan. The hi SunSmart brand is to be used for increasing public awareness and engagement in skin protective behaviours, and always in settings that align with the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan.

SunSmart Research

National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2023-2026

For more information and to raise awareness of protecting skin from the sun to reduce the risk of skin cancer contact prevention@cancercontrol.ie.