You know you should be wearing sun protection cream, but when it comes to your sunscreen needs, are you clued up on how much you need to apply, and how often? Are you aware of the difference between UVA and UVB rays, and that you can get sunburnt underneath your clothes? Get suncare savvy with our expert tips…
10 ways to be suncare savvy:
1. Wear sunscreen – even on cloudy days
UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and are the most damaging for your skin,’ says dermatologist Dr Howard Murad. ‘They can contribute to premature ageing, collagen degradation and skin cancer.’ Make sure you use sunscreen even when the sun isn’t out – try a broad-spectrum SPF, like Nivea Sun Protect & Moisture Sun Lotion which protects against UVB and UVA rays.
2. Medication may make you sun sensitive
Oral contraceptives, antidepressants, retinoids that are used to treat wrinkles and acne, and over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen can make the skin more sun sensitive, so cover up and avoid those rays. Try Nimue Sun-C Environmental Shield SPF 50. It packs a protective punch, as it not only shields you from UVA and UVB rays, but it also protects against the sun’s infra-red rays and blue light from screens.
3. Watch the use-by date
Your sun cream has a shelf life, just like food, and most sunscreens are stamped with an expiration date. However, according to Dr Murad, if the product does not, standard practice is to assume it has a three-year shelf life – but, with proper application, a sunscreen shouldn’t last you that long. Our advice? Buy a new one each year so you know you’re protected. Have a dark skin tone? Try the slightly tinted Heliocare Color Gel cream SPF 50; it corrects and protects.
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4. What about SPF?
The SPF tells us our level of UVB protection. UVB rays cause sunburn and damage the skin’s superficial layers (they can cause cancer too), but you really need a cream that protects against both UVA/B rays. ‘UVA protection is indicated by a circle with UVA in the centre,’ says sun-care expert Clare O’Connor. Try Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50.
5. Keep your sunscreen cool
Keep your sun cream in the shade, as its effectiveness deteriorates in temperatures above 25°C. ‘Heat accelerates the ageing of the product and if it’s been exposed to heat, I would recommend disposing of it,’ advises Clare. ‘And never leave your bottle of sunscreen on the dashboard of a car as these temperatures will be in excess of anything the sunscreen is formulated to withstand.’
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6. Use generously
Most of us fail to apply enough sun cream to properly protect our skin. ‘Apply liberally on the body and face and continuously reapply when out in the sun for long periods of time,’ advises Dr Murad. Experts recommend applying a teaspoonful of sunscreen on your face, and enough to fill a shot glass on your body, topping up every two hours in order to get the maximum benefit of your SPF.
7. Don’t worry about spots
Suffer from breakouts when you use sunscreen, so avoid it at all costs? Keep protected with Eucerin Oil Control Dry Touch Sun Gel-Cream SPF 50+. It’s been formulated for problem skin, has a mattifying effect, and even regulates sebum to prevent blocked pores and reduce shine. It’s the ideal base for under make-up.
8. A tan doesn’t equal protection
Skin going darker in the sun shows that its DNA has been damaged. Instead of blasting yourself in the sun, try a self-tan and protect product like Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, which contains wash-away bronzers as well as sun protection, to turn your skin golden without needing to sizzle on a sunbed.
9. Make-up with an SPF is not enough
Mineral powders and foundations aren’t thick enough to shield your skin from harmful rays. The best way to prevent burning and premature wrinkles is to use a high-factor, tinted SPF such as Bioderma Photoderm Nude Touch SPF 50+ which is a lightweight, non-oily base with a hint of tint to shield your skin and keep it looking flawless.
10. You can burn through your clothes
Unless you’re wearing specialist SPF clothing, the maximum level of protection you can expect from a T-shirt is SPF 10. Go for black and dark-coloured fabrics, which give better protection than white. But as well as staying covered, use Eau Thermale Avène Mineral Cream SPF 50+. When you feel like your skin has had enough, seek refuge in the shade.