Protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays should be one of your top priorities this summer.
But in the excitement of BBQ’s, holidays, day trips and drinks in pub gardens, it can be easy to forget.
However, there are of course a myriad of benefits for protecting your skin from the rays – be it over health issues or skincare concerns.
So whether you’re jetting off or staying put, here are 10 ways to protect your skin this summer and avoid common sun cream mistakes…
Make sure to be safe at any age
Not just a problem for ‘trauma tanning’ teens, sun damage isn’t something you grow out of as you get older. Instead, the opposite can be true. Skincare expert and Ultrasun UK MD, Abi Cleeve explains, ‘Sometimes our skin exhibits sunburn less as we age, but this is not a symptom of being “used” to the sun and needing less protection, rather a sign that our defences aren’t what they used to be and there continues to be deeper down damage.’
Uriage Bariésun Dry Mist SPF50+, £18.44, amazon.co.uk, protects against age-accelerating free radicals as well as UVA and UVB rays.
Allow your skin to adjust to the sun slowly on holiday
Your skin produces UVB-protecting melanin over time, but this can take 10-20 days – meaning five hours on the lounger on day one of your holiday is likely to end in burnt, sore or sensitive skin. Try Eucerin Transparent Dry Touch Sensitive Protect Sun Spray SPF50, £16.99, Boots – it’s not only high factor, but gentle enough for sensitive or acne-prone skin.
Understand the jargon behind your sun cream
One way to remember the difference between UVA and UVB rays is ‘A for ageing’ (these penetrate deep down and break up elastin and collagen) and ‘B for burn’ (the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer). The SPF in your sunscreen is a measure of how much your product will protect your skin from burning – but only takes into consideration UVB rays.
So, look out for a broad-spectrum sun lotion to shield against both UVA and UVB – P20 Face Sun Cream SPF30, £20, Boots, is a great, long-lasting option.
Use products that will protect your skin during all activities
Frustratingly, it’s not just sun your skin needs to contend with on holiday, but saltwater and chlorine too, all of which can alter how your sun cream works. According to research from Vichy, an active day at the beach will decrease your solar protection by half.
For full protection against all elements, their Capital Soleil Beach Protect Anti Dehydration Spray SPF50, £18.50, vichy.co.uk, works wonders and even rehydrates moisture-zapped skin, too.
Avoid pigmentation with protective tools
Skin pigmentation isn’t just a sign of getting older. Caused by UVA rays penetrating deep into your skin, they’re patches of melanin triggered by overexposure to the sun. While vitamin C can lighten pigmentation, prevention is best (and it won’t reverse the deep-down damage).
Ultrasun Face Anti-Pigmentation Tinted SPF50+, £36, John Lewis & Partners, protects skin, stops pigmentation from forming and gives skin a natural glow. But if your budget can’t stretch to this, a high-factor SPF will help shield skin, too. Give Solero Ultra Sensitive Sun Lotion SPF50+, £7, Lloyds Pharmacy, a go.
Don’t scrimp on application – here’s how much sun cream you should be using
A slapdash approach might save a bit of time, but it won’t keep you safe when you’re out in the sunshine. Instead, follow the advice of Boots’ Senior Research Scientist, Clare O’Connor. ‘As a guide, an adult body needs a shot glassful of product to totally cover the body. This equates to: 1tsp for your head and neck and each arm, 2tsp for front torso, 2tsp for the back and 2tsp for each leg.’
Don’t forget to apply cream to your lips!
Frequently neglected when it comes to sun protection, your lips are just as likely to burn as anywhere else – especially if you’re wearing a light-reflecting lipstick or balm. Blistex Ultra Lip Balm SPF50+, £2.99, Boots, defends them against UVA and UVB rays, as well as delivering much-needed hydration.
Reapply more often than you think
‘A study in 2016 showed that after six to eight hours the average Sun Protection Factor (SPF) offered by “once a day” products decreased by 74%,’ says Eucerin’s medical manager Dylan Griffiths. Reapplication is therefore crucial – especially on your shins and feet, the most common areas for women to develop a malignant melanoma. Try Soltan Once Advanced 8hr Protect Suncare Lotion, £10, Boots.
Try out products that are also good for the environment
Sun creams work by absorbing rays so your skin cells don’t have to. But some contain the key ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate, which may not only be harmful to our health, but are proven to bleach the world’s coral reefs. For a ‘reef safe’ option, try, Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF30, £14.50. A donation goes to the Marine Conservation Society with every purchase.
Make sure your make-up doesn’t damage your skin
Your foundation may claim to have a SPF, but as it’s applied in far smaller amounts than sun cream, it won’t provide the same level of protection. Also, ingredients such as retinol work their magic by speeding up cell renewal, meaning your skin is thinner and more sensitive to sunlight. Shield your skin with Beauty Pie Ultralight UVA/UVB SPF25, £7.40 (£35 for non-members).
After all that, make sure to enjoy your summer!
Words by: Jess Beech