Fun In The Sun

5th June 2009

Mary Linehan checks out sun care.

We Brits have a complicated relationship with the sun. It comes out and so do we. Too often though, we stay out for as long as it does, without adequate protection. Not a good thing if you want to avoid wrinkling, hyper-pigmentation, non-malignant melanomas and worse. Without being alarmist, the fact is that the number of deaths in Britain from skin cancer is on the rise.

But, you might be thinking, what about our dependence on sunlight for good health? We need sun so that our bodies produce vitamin D; better weather encourages us outside so we may get more exercise; having a tan makes many of us feel more attractive, boosting well-being and confidence… it’s all true, but it doesn’t make Safe Sun Protection any less valid.

It can be bewildering, nevertheless: the range and number of products available; the science on offer (mineral v chemical sunscreens); what SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to use; how often to apply… And then there’s the cost.

Too many of us are confused, too, about differences between UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are responsible for long-term damage; UVB rays cause redness and burning.

We can improve our relationship with the sun by educating ourselves and taking responsibility for own long-term health and skincare. Enjoy the sun, get outdoors, but stick to common-sense guidelines and do some research.
1. Use an adequate SPF with photostable UVA/UVB protection: a minimum of SPF15 for the body, higher for the face. Bottles now denote Low, Medium, High or Very High Protection.

2. Apply sunscreen regularly throughout exposure, especially after swimming.

3. Use an adequate amount – around 6 teaspoons for the body. There’s no point in spending more on a product if you are going to scrimp on it. (Don’t try to eke out the dregs of your protection if you’re going home in a couple of days!).

4. Check type. Chemical sunscreens absorb rays; mineral sunscreens reflect them, so tend to have less potential to irritate.

5. As part of the bigger picture, the trend is to improve add-on skin care benefits, incorporating antioxidant vitamins, humectants and emollients, often in patented complexes, within the formulations. This not only makes them more comfortable, it provides healing, reparative, anti-oxidant and anti-ageing benefits.

Optima Loves...

Ambre Solaire Light & Silky Lotion SPF20

An ultra light texture containing Garnier’s hydrasilk complex. Lightweight on the skin and moisturising for up to 24 hours, skin is especially silky. £11.99

Boots Soltan Extreme Lotion SPF25

For sporty-types to guard against the effects of sun, wind and sea. Formulations contain a patented antioxidant complex with grapeseed, ginseng and vitamin. £7.34

Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Eye Contour Care UVB/UVB30

Claiming to have identified precisely how uv causes inter-cellular damage, Clarins multi-cellular treatment complex provides DNA protection. Sophisticated new protection for the delicate eye area. £15.50

Nivea Sun Invisible Protection SPF20

A new lightweight, transparent formula that works instantly. EU compliant. £13.29. This tested best for feel on the skin.

Lancôme Soleil DNA Guard SPF15

The latest Lancôme technology includes rice peptides to stimulate collagen production and extract of natural white will flower to help provide DNA protection. £21.50

Estee Lauder Sun Indulgence Lotion for Face SPF30

Provides broad spectrum 1:3 UVA/UVB sunscreen protection. Macadamia seed oil and kukui seed oil boost anti-oxidant defence. £20.00

Liz Earle Sun Shade SPF25 Sun Protector.

Optimum high level UVA/UVB protection. Contains all the anti-aging benefits of green tea, pomegranate and natural-source vitamin E. £15.25

All products are available in a range of SPFs.

Stockists: Clarins – 0800 036 3558;
Garnier –;
Soltan – Boots nationwide;
Lancôme – nationwide;
Nivea – nationwide;
Estee Lauder - counters nationwide;
Liz Earle –

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