Choosing the right outdoor SPF is essential for your holidays. Protection from the Sun’s Harmful UVA and UVB rays is critical if you are going on holiday to sunbathe. Our SPF buying guide is designed to help you make the right choice when selecting your Holiday Sun creams.
For optimal protection against sunburn and skin cancer, make sure that you use products that shield the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays can burn the top layer of skin, while the deeper-penetrating UVA rays pass through clouds and windows to age the skin. Exposure to both types can increase our risk of skin cancer,’ says dermatologist Dr Samantha Bunting.
When you’re shopping for sunscreen, be sure that you understand the labels.
‘The sun protection factor [SPF] tells you how high the UVB protection is. In other words, how long you are protected from burning. An SPF of 15, for example, would protect your skin in the sun 15 times longer than when left unprotected. UVA protection is indicated by the star-rating system – go for products labelled as ‘brood-spectrum protection and use a minimum of SPF15 with a five-star rating.
Whether you’re lounging on a sandy beach abroad or out in your bock garden or local park, the same rules apply. ‘The best means of protection is to avoid direct sunlight and seek the shade, especially between 11am 3pm when the sun is at its strongest.
And when it comes, to the SPF level it’s wise to adjust this to the climate you’re in. ‘On a sunny day in the UK, an SPF of 20 to 30 is sufficient, while In a tropical climate, go for SPF50 on all exposed areas of skin.
To get the level of defence promised by your sunscreen, you need to use it correctly.
We recommend slathering on at least seven teaspoons for an adult for the whole body and three teaspoons for a child. ‘Apply at least 30 minutes before going outside, to allow it to sink in. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the sun, you must reapply every two hours – especially after towelling, sweating and – even if the product is labelled as waterproof.
It’s not just your nose and cheeks that need protecting. ‘Pay attention to delicate areas such as the hairline, lips and ears, These are often neglected, but are prone to burning easily, and we see the consequences of these years down the line, as they are common sites for skin cancer.
Protecting your children from the sun not only prevents painful sunburn, but also reduces their risk of developing skin cancer later in life. ‘When the sun is strong, babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight entirely,’ warns Sarah Williams of Cancer Research UK. ‘Teaching your children to enjoy the sun safely and getting them into good habits when they’re young will stand them in good stead for taking care in adulthood, ‘If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding make sure you don’t scrimp on the sunscreen either – it’s safe for you to use.
Be careful about using last year’s sunscreen, particularly if the bottle has been exposed to very high temperatures, as this can destabilise it. Check the ‘period after opening’ symbol on the bottle- usually 12M’ (12 months). If you’ve had it open longer than the advised time, bin it.