Saturday, 20 June 2015

Buying sunscreen

When the sun shines it is all too tempting to stay out in it for too long., especially, on holiday when long, lazy days at the beach beckon. Everything in moderation, as they say.

If you are going to soak up those rays, it is important to protect your skin. Cover up with a wide-brimmed hat, wear sun glasses and clothing, which according to a leading dermatologist from St Thomas’ hospital, should be thick enough that when you hold it up to the sun, it doesn’t shine through. For any unexposed parts, a sunscreen is a necessity.

A recent report from Which? alleged that  two new products from leading brands were not giving the protection claimed.

“Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Lotion SPF30 (200ml) and Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion SPF30 (180ml) both failed our tests and have been labelled as ‘Don’t Buy’ products, as each only offers around two-thirds of its claimed SPF,” states Which?.

Long, lazy days at the beach beckon

Manufactures are supposed to have substantial data to back up any claims that they make. I never buy SPF 30 anyway.  The advice given to me by a dermatologist was to buy SPF 50.  The rational being that most people don’t apply it properly so if you buy a high factor, you have more chance of getting the protection you need. Using a higher factor does not mean you can stay out longer in the sun.

Although no product will totally block out all the rays, sunscreens are designed to give you protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Over-exposure to UV can not only lead to premature ageing, it could also result in skin cancer.

UVA rays are present all year round and are stronger in summer. They pass through glass and penetrate the skin deeper than UVB rays which are the rays responsible for sunburn.  

According to EU guidelines, sunscreens should contain UVA protection that is equal to a third of its SPF. All sunscreens have to comply with EU regulations, so buying an expensive product does not mean it will be better. You have to apply all of them thickly and frequently. You should also look for one with a UVA logo in a circle or a UVA rating of four or five stars.

How sunscreens work
There are two types of sunscreen, chemical absorbers which mop up UV rays and physical blockers such as titanium dioxide which sit on the skin and reflect them. Research has also indicated that combining antioxidants with a broad spectrum sunscreen may help to decrease UV damage even further.

Here are some I have tried and liked – although, I hasten to add, they have not been tested by Which? They tested SPF 30.

Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution Day Screen, £32
Offers both UVA and UVB protection using titanium dioxide. Is transparent making it ideal for everyday use in the city or countryside. As it contains hyaluronic acid, it is also moisturising. I have used it on my delicate skin and had no problems.

Clinique Body Cream SPF 40, £20
Uses SolarSmart technology, which Clinique says, stabilizes high-level protection against the effects of UVA and UVB rays. Has an antioxidant boost. Also suitable for sensitive skin.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Face Ultra-light Fluid SPF50+, £17, Boots
Boasting Mexoplex, a complex that contains Mexoryl SX and Mexoryl XL, reputed to be two of the most effective sunscreens against  UVA and UVB rays, it has a lovely light texture and is suitable if you are sensitive.

NIVEA SUN Protect & Moisture Sun Lotion , £11.99
A good value sunscreen that absorbs well into the skin and is sticky. Contains vitamin E and is water resistant. A holiday staple.  For sensitive skins try NIVEA SUN Protect & Sensitive Sun Lotion , £13.99

Boots Soltan Sensitive Hypoallergenic Suncare Lotion SPF50+ , £6.50
Boasts the maximum five-star rating protection against UVA rays. Easy to slather on. Absorbs after a couple of minutes leaving your skin feeling soft.

By Daralyn Danns