The ultimate proof of a great holiday is often – oddly – a great tan. What we forget is that when we tan, we’re causing damage to the skin. Every time we sunbathe, we increase our risk of skin cancer and speed up ageing. Luckily, there are lots of good sun creams out there – because our usual skincare routine needs a summer backup.
Holly Grenfell, skin specialist and member of the Oriflame Skin Expert Panel, knows which sun-traps we should look out for.
‘Clouds do not protect us from UV rays, and both sand and water reflect the sun. Your exposure to radiation increases if you are at high altitude or in countries near the equator, which are closer to the sun,’ she explains.
Sun creams should protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause skin cancer and UVB rays cause surface damage to the skin. The SPF number refers only to protection against UVB.
‘Double the factor does not mean double the protection.
SPF 30 gives up to 96% protection against UVB, but SPF 50 gives only 98%,’ says Holly. ‘The sun protection should also provide chemical and physical protection, meaning it should both reflect the rays and prevent them from being absorbed.’
Currently, sun-related skin cancer is more common among men than women. ‘One reason is that men don’t use sun cream as much as women do,’ Holly explains. ‘People who aren’t used to creams sometimes find them hard to apply evenly over the body. Sun spray is the perfect solution. Sprays aren’t sticky and don’t go all yucky on body hair!’
Don’t be thrifty with your sun cream.
‘Adjust the amount to your body size, but as a general guide, think a shot glass measure of cream for someone of average build. If you think you’re overdoing it a bit, good, because we often use too little,’ says Holly. ‘Reapply every two hours or more often if you swim or perspire.’
If despite your efforts you still get burnt, Holly has a few good suggestions: ‘Take a cold bath with oats, let your skin air dry and apply pure aloe vera to the burn, or bathe in cold black tea. Greek yoghurt (preferably 10% fat) will heal and reduce redness.’