Five mistakes you're making with your sunscreen — from relying on SPF in make-up to missing vulnerable areas
SUN'S out, suncream’s out (or it should be!). But are you damaging your skin by unwittingly making the same mistakes with your SPF every year?
A recent survey found that 90% of 13-24 year olds admit to having been sunburnt at some point, and of those, almost a third have been burnt more than five times.*
So why isn’t the message getting through? After all, Dr Hiva Fassihi, dermatologist for La Roche-Posay explains: “Sunscreen helps to prevent skin cancer and is the best anti-ageing product you’ll ever use.”
The same old rules apply – put sunscreen on 15 minutes before going outside, layer on a generous amount from top to toe, then reapply every two hours.
Yet, according to a survey by Cancer Research UK, skin cancer is on the rise and is the most common form of the disease in the UK. H
ere’s how to banish those sunscreen blunders for good.
You rely on SPF in make-up
NO matter how high the SPF is in your foundation, concealer or primer, it will not protect your skin like a proper suncream.
“Research has shown that we don’t apply make-up thickly enough to receive the level of protection promised by an SPF,” warns Dr Fassihi.
- Solait Anti-Ageing Face Fluid SPF50+, £3.49, Superdrug – buy now
“We would need to apply four to six times as much to achieve the right level.”
Before you go outside, slather on a generous amount of SPF30 or 50 before your foundation, then reapply on top every two hours.
Solait Anti-Ageing Face Fluid SPF50+, £3.49, mattifies and smoothes the look of skin and contains vitamin E to protect from free radicals.
You use old sunscreen
WE'VE all been guilty of using last summer’s bottle.
“An Asda survey in 2013 revealed that 57% of Brits are wearing out-of-date sunscreen,” says Abi Cleeve, managing director at Ultrasun.
- Soltan Protect & Moisturise Suncare Lotion SPF30, £4, Boots – buy now
But how does the formula alter over time? “The texture of the lotion might have changed and the efficiency of the UVR filters may have decreased, so it’s worth buying new,” explains Dr Fassihi.
Check the label for its shelf life as the average is six to 12 months.
“Take note of the open jar symbol on the packaging to ensure the time period the formula is effective from after opening hasn’t expired,” says Dr Howard Murad, founder of Murad Skincare.
Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise Suncare Lotion SPF30, £4, is non-greasy and leaves skin protected and soft.
You overestimate how waterproof your SPF is
A HUGE 25% of suncream is washed off during a 20-minute dip in the sea.**
Water resistance in SPF is tested in labs by applying on a human arm before submerging it into hot water.
- Nivea Sun Protect & Moisture Sun Spray SPF50, £7, Superdrug – buy now
UK tests allow manufacturers to claim a sunscreen is water-resistant even if the SPF drops by 50% after
two 20-minute immersions.
“Plus exercising and sweating may involve wiping it off by accident, so always reapply afterwards,” says Dr Fassihi.
Nivea Sun Protect & Moisture Sun Spray SPF50, £7, is easy to apply and gives high protection.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Spray SPF50+, £18, is water-resistant, doesn’t leave marks and is formulated for sensitive skin.
You miss vulnerable areas
It’s easy to overlook some parts of the body when applying sunscreen, but this can lead to sunburn – despite new formulas covering the skin more efficiently than ever before.
Missed areas are usually the feet, ears, collarbone, nose and the back of the neck, so bear these in mind when applying SPF.
- Lancaster Sun Beauty Velvet Milk SPF30, £32, Selfridges – buy now
“Women often neglect their shins and feet, while the most common site for men to develop a malignant melanoma is on the chest, back and scalp,” says Abi.
Lancaster Sun Beauty Velvet Milk SPF30, £32, goes on evenly and smells delicious.
“Lips also tend to be forgotten about and, unlike the lower lip where there is natural shade, the upper lip shows ageing from sun damage more quickly,” she adds.
You don't understand the label
BEFORE buying sunscreen, you need to make sure it protects you from both UVA rays (which penetrate deep into the skin and cause ageing) and UVB rays (which penetrate the surface of the skin and cause it to burn).
“The SPF number on the bottle is a measure of UVB protection and a circled UVA logo means that the sunscreen meets EU requirements for UVA protection,” says Dr Fassihi.
- Piz Buin Tan & Protect Tan Accelerating Oil Spray SPF30, £8, Boots – buy now
If you want to get the most protection against UVA rays from your sunscreen, opt for one that shows a five-star rating on the packaging.
Equally, if the label says “broad spectrum” it will mean protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Dr Murad says: “I recommend looking for protection against other daily assaults on the skin, too, such as blue light, pollutants and free radical damage.” Scan the label for ingredients like vitamin E and lutein.
Piz Buin Tan & Protect Tan Accelerating Oil Spray SPF30, £8, protects against both UVA and UVB rays and contains melitan, which boosts natural tanning.
Sources: *Teen Cancer Trust **Environmental Health Perspectives Journal
Stockists: Boots (Boots.com), Lancaster (Selfridges.com), La Roche-Posay (Laroche-posay.co.uk), Nivea (Superdrug.com), Piz Buin (Boots.com), Solait (Superdrug.com)
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