Guide to Sun Safety in the Philippines

Written by Patrick

The sun in the Philippines is intense! This article contains tips to help educate you and make you aware of the seriousness of the effects of the sun to your safety and health.

The information below contains safety tips that should help you to be prepared for your travels in the Philippines and how to properly deal with the sun and the country’s tropical climate.

Sun Facts

The following are facts about the sun that you should be aware of.

Sun Facts By The Numbers

Caption:  Sun Facts By The Numbers | Image Source

Get All The Facts

Caption:  Get All The Facts | Image Source

The following are some facts about the sun you should be aware of:

  • The sun can penetrate water up to 30 meters.
  • 70% of All UV Rays penetrate through the clouds.
  • Beach umbrellas only provide about 7 SPF.
  • Solar radiation causes up to 90% of visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging including wrinkles. 
  • UVB causes skin surfaces damage such as sunburns. 
  • UVA causes long term damage and contributes to premature aging and skin cancer. 
  • Eyesight is damaged by the sun as much as skin.  Wear 100% UV sunglasses.
  • An average light-skinned person starts to sunburn in about 15 minutes in the sun.
  • Skin cancer is CANCER!
  • Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
  • Having 5 or more blistering sunburns early in life increases one’s melanoma risk by 80%
  • Melanoma (skin cancer) does not discriminate by age, race, or gender.  Everyone is at risk. 
  • Sunburns fade but sun damage lasts.  


Sunscreen is an important tool in the fight against skin cancer.

  • Experts recommend sunscreens have an SPF of between 30 and 50
  • According to experts, you should apply sunscreen everyday … especially to your face.  Even if you work in an office, you can be exposed to windows and fluorescent bulbs.
  • Broad-spectrum protection protects against both UVA and UVB rays. 
  • Always use a broad-spectrum, SPF 30+, water resistant sunscreen.
  • You should apply sunscreen 30 minutes BEFORE going out into the sun and reapply every 2 hours. 
  • In general, most people need 1 shot glass or 1 oz of sunscreen to cover their body.
  • 2x the SPF does NOT mean 2x the protection
  • Wear a healthier mineral sunscreen (zinc and titanium).  
  • Don’t forget your lips!  Apply at least an SPF 30 lip balm daily.


Wear 100% UV-blocking sunglasses. Eyesight is damaged by the sun as much as skin. )

UV Rays & Effects on Skin

The following image depicts the various UV rays and how each affects skin.

UV Rays & Effects on Skin

Caption:  UV Rays & Effects on Skin | Image Source

UVC Rays – Shortest waves, usually do not penetrate the Earth’s ozone layer.

UVB Rays – Longer waves that reach the skin’s surface – can cause surface tanning, burning, and signs of aging. 

UVC Rays – Even longer waves that can penetrate deep into the skin’s surface, releasing free radicals causing DNA changes that can result in skin cancers.

UV Index 

The UV Index is an international, scientific measure of the level of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.   The higher the level, the greater the risk of skin damage. 

UV Index

Caption:  UV Index | Image Source

UV Index Chart

Caption:  UV Index Chart | Image Source

Clothing:  Your First Line of Defense

Your clothes are the single most effective form of protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.  They can absorb or block much of this radiation. 


Wide-brimmed hats are highly recommended for complete sun protection. Experts recommend a brim size of 3 to 5 inches as it can directly block the UV that passes in a straight line from the sun to the face. It is also important for the brim to the curve down and sit closer to the face for protection against the reflected UV.


For comfort, wear clothes made of lightweight fabrics such as cotton, rayon, chambray, and linen for they are breathable and cool.


Pack white or light-colored clothes for your next trip to the Philippines. Aside from being soft to the eyes, these colors reflect light therefore absorbs less heat.


UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, indicates how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach the skin. Experts recommend a fabric with UPF of 30 to 49 for they offer very good protection while those with UPF 50 and above are considered excellent.


Prolonged sun exposure can cause serious damage to the eyes such as cataract, photokeratitis, and eye cancers hence the eyes should be equally protected as well. Protect the eyes by using sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Wraparound sunglasses or those with wide lenses that fit closely to the eyes also protect the eyes from every angle.

Some contact lenses also offer UV protection but should be worn with sunglasses for added protection.


The following is important information to know about sunscreen.

Sunscreen 101

The following is an update on the FDA’s new sunscreen requirements.

Sunscreen 101

Caption:  Sunscreen 101 | Image Source

SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

The following is everything you need to know about SPF:

The following is everything you need to know about SPF:

Everything You Need To Know About SPF

Caption:  Everything You Need To Know About SPF | Image Source

Sunscreen Ingredients

The following is what you need to know about sunscreen ingredients so that you make the best selection when purchasing sunscreen.

Sunscreen Ingredients

Caption:  Sunscreen Ingredients | Image Source

Chemical VS Mineral Sunscreens

Caption:  Chemical VS Mineral Sunscreens | Image Source

How to Choose a Safe Sunscreen

The following are tips to ensure your safety against the harmful effects of the sun by selecting and using effective sunscreen product.

How to Choose a Safe Sunscreen

Caption:  How to Choose a Safe Sunscreen | Image Source

Tips for Protecting Your Skin

The following are three factors to make certain a sunscreen has to ensure it is effective.

Sun Safety Guide

The following guide provides simply tips to follow to ensure your safety when outdoors in the sun.

Sun Safety Guide

Caption:  Sun Safety Guide | Image Source

Other Important Considerations

The following infographic provides additional safety tips and information to be aware of when outdoors in the sun.

Sun Safety Tips

Caption:  Sun Safety Tips | Image Source

Treating Sunburn

Sunburn is a painful and unpleasant condition, especially when on vacation.  The following are treatments to relieve sunburn pain, itching, and cure a bad sunburn.

  • Get out of the sun as soon as you can! 
  • Keep burnt skin covered
  • Cool the skin with a cool shower or bath
  • Add milk, cider vinegar, oatmeal, baking soda to baths and compresses
  • Apply after-sun lotion or aloe vera
  • Apply moist compress to soothe pain
  • Leave any blisters intact
  • Honey speeds healing and reduces infection on more serious burns
  • Take paracetamol if needed
  • Drink plenty of water!


Q: Is it possible to apply moisturizer before sunscreen?

A:  When you have a particular skincare regime in place with things such as moisturizers and serums it is best practice to apply sunscreen after they have been applied. The reason for this is because, these products can dull the protecting ability of sunscreen.​

Q: Can sunscreen be used during pregnancy?

A: One of the best things you can do to safeguard yourself during pregnancy, is religiously wearing sunscreen, with a minimum SPF of 30. It is, however, very important that you carefully read all the ingredients in your chosen sunscreen. This due to the presence of some chemicals that are present in sunscreens that can absorb into your bloodstream and harm your fetus. COTZ recommends that you speak to your doctor before using any sunscreen during your pregnacy.

Q: How long does the protection provided by sunscreen last?

A: The duration of protection provided, its completely dependent on the SPF factor of the sunscreen itself. For optimum results sunscreen should be applied thirty minutes before entering the sun. This will give the chemicals in sunscreen ample time to sink into the skin. After this sunscreen should be applied at two hour intervals regularly.

Q: Is there a difference between factor 30 and factor 50 sunscreen? 

A: Yes, but the difference is not great. They both provide high levels of protection against the UV rays. SPF 30 provides 96% protection whereas SPF 50 provides 98%.

Q: What does SPF stand for?

A: The effectiveness of a sunscreen to block UVA and UVB rays is known as SPF. Although no SPF can provide full and complete protection against the sun, it is a general rule of thumb that the higher the SPF, the greater the amount of protection that is provided by the sunscreen in question. Next to the SPF there will also be a number that will represent for how long the sunscreen will provide protection. For example, if the number was 3 and SPF was 50, then you would be protected from sunburn and other ailments for 150 minutes.

Q: How much sunscreen should I use?

A: Most of the sunscreen users do not apply more than 20-25 percent of the required amount sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied so that the whole body is completely covered. In order to cover an adults body you need roughly 1 to 2 ounces of sunscreen. This is usually enough to fill one to two shot glasses. People also tend to miss certain areas of their body and end up getting sun damage. You should always be sure that you cover your feet, your neck, your ears and the top of your head. There is always a possibility of skin cancer developing on your lips. To prevent this from happening try using a lip balm that contains SPF of at least 30

Q: What type of sunscreen is best to use?

A: The best type of sunscreen to use is one that suits your skin, which will be different for every person. Sunscreen can come in so many different forms including lotions, creams, gels, ointments, wax sticks, and sprays. Whatever your preference all sunscreens should be SPF 30 or above and be water resistant.

  • If you have dry skin creams are best for this. Creams are also good for use on the face.
  • Hairy areas such as the head or male chests it is best to use gel sunscreens.
  • Eyes are best protected with stick sunscreens.
  • When applying sunscreen to children, it may be easier to use a spray sunscreen. When using these products, it is imperative that all skin that is exposed is fully covered. When these products are applied, please make sure that it is not done in heat, near an open flame or while smoking.
  • There are also sunscreens made for specific purposes such as newborns or people with sensitive skin.

Often you can get combination products like moisturizers that contain SPF. These products also need to be applied regularly just like sunscreen.

Q: Will sunscreen prevent me from getting all the vitamin D that I need?

A: There is the possibility of lower vitamin D absorption if there is sunscreen applied to your skin.

  • If you have concerns about your levels of vitamin D, then it is a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor about supplements.
  • Vitamin D can be gained from foods and other supplements. This will make sure you have adequate levels without risking cancer.

Q:  How to treat sunburn?

A: In the unfortunate event, that you contract sunburn you should treat it immediately. Good ways to do this are:

  • To help reduce the heat take a cool bath.
  • Discomfort caused by dry skin due to sunburn. This can be eased with moisturizer. Apply to damp skin after a bath, to help trap water in your skin.
  • An over the counter cream, known as hydrocortisone is also a great aid in easing the pain caused by sunburn. This can also be done by taking ibuprofen or aspirin.
  • Sunburn makes water travel to the skin, so it is essential to drink copious amounts of water to prevent dehydration.
  • Any ”-canine” products should be avoided.
  • Sometimes skin can blister because of sunburn. This is known as second-degree sunburn. ​
  • Blisters are formed to prevent your skin contracting infection. The blisters should be left to heal naturally.
  • If the blisters cover a large area of your body, it is essential that you seek immediate help.
  • The sun should be avoided when you have sunburn. In the summer months, we all rush to the shops, buy a bottle of sunscreen and lather our bodies in it to protect ourselves from the sun. What we forget is that yes, even though the sun is harsher in the summer months, we still need to avoid its rays all year round.  Picking out which sunscreen suits you, applying it correctly and all the steps that need to be taken to ensure that it works correctly can be quite daunting. However, there is no need to fret we’ve found out everything you need to know to make it all simple


I joke but it’s true … I tell everyone “My Signature Scent is Sunscreen” while traveling in the Philippines.  If I could offer just one piece of advice … Always Wear Sunscreen! Do you have more sun safety tips to share?

Watch this Video … Best Advice Ever!

Wear Sunscreen

Caption:  Wear Sunscreen | Image Source

About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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