Eight tips to protect yourself from the New Caledonian sun


In New Caledonia, the severity of UV rays is at its peak. To protect yourself from it, and thus ward off the specter of skin cancer, or even premature aging of the skin, you should always protect yourself from the sun’s rays.

The effect of La Niña is not enough: between two periods of heavy rain, beware of sunburn! Not a matter of convenience. Caledonia is a particularly exposed place in this region. To maintain your health, this is what he advises.


The sun emits visible light, heat and the famous ultraviolet radiation, which is the most dangerous part of this radiation. Do you know the indicator that measures their intensity? It makes it possible to assess the risks of sun exposure, and they can be monitored using the map published on the Météo France Nouvelle-Calédonie website (click on the “Forecast” tab, then “UV Index”).

For example, this, submitted in anticipation of Tuesday, January 10, 2023, is provided for an indicator:

  • 13 in Comack, Connie, Burrell, Yatty and Mary,
  • Up to 14 islands in Amédée islet, Nouméa, Isle of Pines, Belep, Pouébo, Hienghène, Canala, Ouvéa and Lifou.

This Tuesday, January 10, on the Météo France NC forecast map, all UV indexes are between 13 and 14, which means high risk.

2 Be aware of the danger

However, the World Health Organization considers the risk to be:

  • poor with an index of 1 or 2,
  • moderate between 3 and 5,
  • raised to 6 and 7,
  • a strong 8 to 10,
  • An extreme eleven!

In short, Caledonia breaks records for its dangerousness. In question, the low thickness of the ozone layer in our latitudes, which hardly filters the rays in the heart of the hot season. But it’s not much better in the cold season.

3Know the consequences

When the skin receives UV rays, it reacts by thickening the skin and producing melanin. Therefore, tanning is a defense mechanism. And while UV rays have beneficial effects in small amounts, overexposure can lead to all kinds of negative consequences. On the skin (sunburn, sun sensitivity, premature aging, cancers), on the eyes (keratitis, conjunctivitis, cataracts …) and on the immune system.

GP, Cyril Duchateau develops: “A quarter of an hour is enough for sunburn – the famous burn due to UV-B rays that will burn skin cells. The long-term risks are premature aging of the skin – skin that will fade and we will degrade very quickly. Burn our solar capital in the young years. Avoid exposure to children and in the long runcontinue, Skin aging with UV rays that cause cancer. They are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma, also called squamous cell carcinoma (definitions can be found here).

To develop the topic, see the program Dakar Dedicated to skin diseases.

4 Really watch out for the little ones

Mentioned by Météo France NC (in this place) : With regard to sunburn and cancer risk, exposure to UV rays depends on age and phototype (…) Infants and children, who are growing and more sensitive to environmental hazards than adults, are at particular risk.” The skin of children, as well as adolescents, is thinner, with an immature pigment system. “It appears that excessive sun exposure during childhood and adolescence creates favorable conditions for the development of melanoma or other skin cancers during life.”

5 Don’t stop at skin tone

Of course, we still read, Skin type (or phototype) makes individuals more or less at risk from the sun, especially sunburn and skin cancer.. It is clear that light milky skin “picks up” more than dark and dark skin in terms of sunburn. “On the other hand, the risks of premature skin aging, photosensitization, eye lesions, and immunosuppression concern all skin types.” Conclusion, everyone should protect themselves.

A hot scene of the season at the Baie des Citrons, in January 2023.

6 to protect yourself

How do you protect yourself? Let’s remember the basics:

  • By staying in the shadows, of course, but beware of the phenomenon of reflection and echo. Being under an umbrella does not guarantee protection from the sun. And since clear, shiny surfaces reflect ultraviolet rays, caution is tenfold increased at sea. Also consider the magnifying glass effect: water droplets on the body refresh the skin but increase UV penetration.
  • By covering up, in particular with appropriate clothing: a wide-brimmed hat, suitable UV-protection sunglasses, fairly loose-fitting but tightly woven clothing or particularly anti-UV clothing.

I have the full lycra: pants, top, long sleeves, and gloves.

Mary Jo, met on the beach in Noumea

  • By applying sunscreen.

See David Sigal and Gaël Detcheverry’s report:

© New Caledonia

7 Proper use of sunscreen

  • In Caledonia, it is best to prefer a cream with a high index, at least 30 or 50 (buying advice here). It is also advisable to use a suitable cream, not only according to the context, and to your skin type, but also to different parts of the body.
  • Pharmacist Xavier Chauvin develops: “We take a spray that is smoother and spreads easily on the body. For the face, we’ll take something a little thicker, which will resist a little better for the more fragile parts, namely the face, shoulders, neck.” Remember, full screen does not exist (the cream filters UV rays, but will always let some through).
  • Putting on sunscreen is good. Applying it correctly is better. It is recommended to apply it 30 minutes before going out and apply it regularly. “Two or three hours later, we put on sunscreen.”explains the pharmacist. Oftentimes, depending on what we’re doing and our sensitivity to the sun. “Especially when you wipe us. Especially for children who are out of the water, who are in the water, who are constantly wiping themselves.”
  • Cream applied in a thick layer. “The most important thing is the amount. You really have to be wearing sunscreen.” Without forgetting the most sensitive areas such as the ears, nose, lips or neck.

Two issues remain. There is an environmental impact of the product: remember to choose an environmentally friendly cream, to protect the most beautiful lake in the world (examples here).

There is also the cost. To our Australian neighbor who has long faced the scourge of skin cancer and who has become an advocate for sun protection, a medical student Calls for making sunscreen free.

Interpretations with Grégory Plesse for NC la 1ère:

© New Caledonia

Using sunscreen is better than nothing. But it is a misconception to think that we will be able to expose ourselves to the sun for a longer period.

Cyril Duchato, MD, MD

8 Beware of incoming thoughts

  • It is advised to avoid exposure to the hottest hours of the day. But that doesn’t mean we’re safe in the morning. “Measurements show that we can, for example, in November, in December, up to 20% – 30 % more UV radiation in the morning than in the afternoonAlexandre Peltier of Météo France explains.
  • Because UV rays do not heat up. “The risk can remain high even when it’s less hot.” Being invisible, it can also cause eye burns without dazzling.
  • Another thing to remember is that most clouds do not filter UV rays. You can get a sunburn without even seeing the sun.
  • And if wearing light-colored clothes gives a feeling of freshness, then dark shades absorb ultraviolet rays better.

Listen to Charlotte Manifee’s report:

A good reaction to the beach is to protect yourself from the sun!


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