Whether you’re spending the day lounging outside or simply sitting indoors by a sunny window, it’s crucial to shield your skin from sun damage. Here’s what to know when you are looking to stock up on sun cream.
A fast-absorbing formulation that doesn’t leave skin shiny.
The sun protection factor, or SPF, measures the amount of protection a cream offers from ultraviolet B radiation (UVB), the kind of rays that cause burns. The higher the SPF, the higher the protection. Your sunscreen also needs to protect you from ultraviolet A (UVA), rays which are associated with skin ageing. If the sunscreen packaging says “broad spectrum,” that means the cream shields you from both UVA and UVB. You may also see ‘PA’ followed by plus signs on the label — this shows the level of UVA protection a cream has. The more plus signs you see, the higher the product’s UVA protection. The NHS recommends applying SPF 30 or higher 30 minutes before going out so it has time to be absorbed.
Spritz this formula on wiggly children keen to get back to running around.
There are essentially two types of SPF to consider — mineral and ‘chemical.’ Mineral sun protection ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on top of the skin and form a physical barrier that bounces UV rays away. Chemical sunscreen ingredients such as homosalate and oxybenzone absorb into the skin where they soak up the sun’s UV rays, then convert them into heat and release it. Some parents prefer using mineral sunscreens on their children because the ingredients are not absorbed by the skin and start working immediately, rather than taking 30 minutes to reach peak efficacy. Plus, the slightly chalky appearance of many mineral sun creams indicates where children are protected and if there are any parts of the skin that need more lotion.
A cream for the face with both mineral and chemical ingredients.
The phrase ‘water resistant’ on sun cream labels may be confusing. It means that the sunscreen has ingredients that will help it remain effective and stay on your skin while you swim — but it doesn’t mean that it is completely waterproof. So if you’re going to be taking a dip, it’s important to reapply sun cream often, even if you’re wearing a water resistant formulation.