Whether you’re in the throws of a glorious mud bath or trotting about in the sunshine, after a few ciders while listening to your favourite band, it’s easy not to notice the strength of the sun.

Even if it’s cloudy, it’s important to protect yourself from harmful UV rays so you don’t run the risk of festival-wreckers such as sunstroke, prickly heat and the ultimate no-no, sunburn. After all, who wants to spend their entire time at a festival cooped up in a tent in a bid to stay cool or sporting embarrassing red bits?

We all know that too much sun exposure and heat is both dangerous and can make us feel terrible, however when we’re having a good time at a festival our sensibilities seem to go out the window.  Add alcohol to the mix and things like heat exhaustion from dehydration are all the more likely. So what simple things can you do to protect yourself from the sun this year without being a total killjoy?

Sunburn

The sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3pm, which despite the fact the experts say it should be avoided, is the peak time for watching those all-important afternoon bands and taking a wander around the festival site. As we all know however, it can be hard to find areas of shade, with tents brimming full of party-goers and stages with no shelter whatsoever.

The intense sun exposure that causes sunburn is the kind that can cause premature ageing and more importantly skin cancer.  In fact, some experts believe that just one instance of sunburn that blisters before you hit the age of 20, can double your chance of getting malignant melanoma in later life. Scary. To avoid it make sure you; 

  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The higher the SPF, the better. Also make sure you choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which will protect you against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Remember to apply sunscreen to the bits you would usually think of, such as the back of your neck, lips, hair-line, forehead, the backs of your legs and feet. 
  • Reapply sunscreen every few hours, so take a sample size bottle, as well as the regular size bottle for the tent, to pop in your bag and take with you wherever you go. 
  • Where a hat to protect your face, invest in one that goes with all your festie outfits so you can remain on-trend and safe at the same time.
  • Think the celebs wear Ray bans just for the kudos? Wrong. Good quality sunglasses have all important UV filters to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. 

JUST IN CASE you do end up with a sunburnt bit you’ve forgotten to slop some sunscreen on, pack a good aftersun gel. Pick a cooling cream or gel that will take the heat out of the burn and help the redness to disperse.

Sunstroke

Sunstroke often occurs following prolonged sun-exposure as when your body can’t cool down fast enough it starts to overheat. This is often made worse by dehydration through the inevitable festival alcohol consumption and salty food from the burger vans.

Signs of heat exhaustion or sunstroke include fainting, dizziness, chills, palpitations, nausea, headaches, tiredness and confusion, loss of appetite and even hallucinations, all of which would certainly ruin your festival trip.

To make sure you don’t run the risk of passing out just as the band you’ve been waiting the entire festival to see hits the stage; 

  • Do everything you can to keep cool and keep the top of your head out of the sun (this is where your new fabulous festival hat will also come in handy). 
  • Try and take the odd break in the shade by finding some trees to sit under or a tent to chill out in.
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day. Take a two litre bottle of water in your bag with you to sip throughout the day. Most festival sites have drinking water taps to fill up at so you don’t have to spend extra cash on getting your hydration fix. Remember you’ll look fresher if you drink lots of water too! 

JUST IN CASE you start to feel unwell in the heat, take some rehydration sachets with you. Pop one of these in a bottle of water and it’ll help balance out lost fluids and electrolytes (salts and sugars to you and me) in no time.

Prickly heat

We’ve all been there, dancing around in the sunshine in the middle of a crowd where you can’t tell one person from another. You’re hot, you’re sweaty, you’re itchy and red and you’re having a great time.... Oh wait.

Prickly heat is an irritable red rash that occurs when you sweat more than usual, often because of excessive heat. It goes without saying that a hot and humid festival crowd creates the perfect conditions to develop this annoying, itchy and unattractive heat-related rash.

The rash can flare up anywhere (eew), but more often than not it occurs under tight-fitting clothing (that Lycra all-in-one isn’t looking so attractive now is it?). Unfortunately your body will need to acclimatise to the heat, sometimes over a few days, before the rash starts to settle down, so as far as prickly heat goes prevention is better than cure; 

  • Pop a portable fan in your handbag. If you feel yourself overheating, you’ll be thankful for a blast of cool air. 
  • Water-mist sprays can work wonders to help you cool down. Simply spritz your face every now and again to stop your skin getting too hot. This will also give you a lovely fresh glow to see you through the day.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing where you can. This can help stop irritation and prevent excessive sweating. The main causes of prickly heat. 

JUST IN CASE you do develop prickly heat, take some calamine lotion in your tent supplies. This can help soothe and cool the irritation.

Stay safe and have fun in the sun!