Avoiding Sunburn on Ecuador Beaches

What can you do to avoid sunburn when you go to the beach in Ecuador?

Apparently, Ecuador beaches have among the highest UV indexes in the world. According to the Hyperion Report from the Ecuadorean Civilian Space Agency, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia receive the highest UV radiation on the planet. The report says the UV index in Guayaquil is over 14, and in Quito it is over 24. To put this in perspective, the World Health Organization (WHO) state the maximum tolerable level of UV radiation is 11 which is considered “extreme”. In other words, you should avoid being exposed to UV levels of 11 or above, as much as possible.

What’s all the fuss about? There are three types of UV radiation UVA (accelerates aging, wrinkling and loss of skin elasticity), UVB (increases risk of skin cancer) and UVC (not a problem). Supposedly, with UV levels above 11 you can sunburn in 15 minutes. Yikes! But who wants to stay indoors like a sissy? What can you do, and what do you need to know?

With UV levels above 11 at most Ecuador beaches, for sure, you need sun protection if you don’t want to get sunburn in Ecuador.

Being 1/4 Greek, I have olive skin and tan easily. As a kid, I spent all summer in the Mediterranean sun, never using sun protection after the first few days, and I never got sunburn. Yet in the Ecuadorean sun, after months of living here and lots of time on the beach, I can still get sunburn in a couple of hours, if I forget to use sun protection. Even on cloudy days, UV protection is advised!

With the ozone layer getting thinner around the world, UV protection is more important than ever. Luckily there are more sun protection options nowadays, from hats and special sun protective clothing (rash guards or water shirts) to portable canopies, to sun screens with sun protection factor (SPF) 50 or 100+.

SPF 100+? Yes really! I remember factor 30 being off the charts! SPF 100 goes on thick enough, it certainly feels like it should cut UV exposure. But does it really? The answer is yes! It is not just marketing hype, there really is a difference in the sun protection offered with higher-rated sun screens.

Here’s the science: SPF 15 means it reduces UV by 92%. Or put another way it takes 15 times longer for the wearer to get sunburn. Likewise, wearing SPF 100 gives you 99% protection and 100 times longer in the sun, before you get burned – so long as it stays on that is. But if you’re in and out of the water, it doesn’t. That’s why sun protective clothing, is a good option. Sun protective clothing is usually in the SPF 20-30 range, doesn’t come off, and looks cool! But it doesn’t cover your face, of course! So really, you need both.

Getting sunburn is fast way to ruin your Ecuador beach vacation. So whether you prefer hats, clothing, creams or canopies, get the best UV protection you can, and use it throughout the trip. If you live here year round, don’t get complacent, you still need sun protection. Tener cuidado!

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UV protection products to consider:

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Mark Cowtan
After nearly 30 years working in technology marketing in the UK and California, I emigrated to Ecuador, for a more balanced lifestyle and the luxury of living and working by the beach. Now, I help startups and small businesses with their Internet marketing.
Mark Cowtan

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