Sun Protection: The Ultimate Guide To SPF

sun and ocean

Yes, we should all be wearing a minimum of SPF 15 every day, regardless of the weather, but a lot of us only really start considering sun protection around this time of the year. Whether you always leave it until the last minute and make a last minute dash in duty-free or you prefer to take time to consider your options, here is a straightforward guide to provide you with all the information you need to make the right selection.

Should you opt for chemical or physical protection?

Chemical SPF absorbs harmful UV rays to prevent them from damaging your skin, while physical or mineral sun protection creates a veil to deflect them. A lot of skin experts advocate physical formula, which contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, because they tend to be less irritating than chemical ones. However, some physical sun creams can leave a chalky, ashy finish. For the most part, it’s a matter of preference and unless you have sensitive skin, you can use either.  

Is factor 50 worth it?

It’s often assumed that the higher the factor the better the SPF. In reality, factor 50 only gives you one-to-two percent more protection than 30. While SPF 50 blocks around 98 percent of harmful rays, SPF 30 shields 97 percent. What is more important is looking for the term ‘broad spectrum’ as this will ensure both UVA (these cause premature ageing) and UVB (these cause your skin to burn) rays are blocked. 

How often should you apply sun cream?

The biggest issue with sun cream is how we apply it. You could have the highest, strongest factor on, but if it’s not used correctly it won’t give you enough protection. Most of us don’t apply enough and don’t top it up as much as we should throughout the day. The general rule of thumb is you need eight teaspoons of sun cream to cover your body from head-to-toe. It should be applied 15 minutes before you head out into the sun and it should have fully absorbed before you get dressed. 

If you’re on the beach or outside, you need to reapply every two hours, or after swimming. Be aware that sweating and lying on the sand or a towel can also wipe off your sun cream.

Can you use one formula from head-to-toe?

A good broad spectrum SPF will protect your face as effectively as your arms and legs. However, it is worth investing in a specific facial formula if you want a lighter, non-greasy texture with similar hydrating and nourishing benefits to your moisturiser.

So, what are the SPFs we recommend?

Coola is the new kid-on-the-block that everyone is talking about. The lightweight, eco-friendly formulas are like nothing you have tried before. The range offers both physical and chemical protection, as well as lotions and sprays with scented and fragrance-free options. The standout formula is the Eco-Luxe Body Spray SPF 30, £36, because it makes reapplication to quick and effortless. 

If you have sensitive or problem skin and want a specific formula for your face, look to iS Clinical Eclipse SPF 50 Translucent, £32. It is a mineral SPF, but the titanium dioxide is transparent and the zinc oxide is micronised, so you don’t have to worry about it leaving a chalky, ashy finish.

Whichever formula you decide to invest in, just remember to look for broad spectrum coverage and to regularly reapply.

Victoria Hall | , , , , , , , , , ,