Which sun cream should you use?

Do you know your UVAs from your UVBs? Check out our handy guide to choose the right sun cream for you.

Whether you call it sun cream, sunscreen or sun tan lotion, we all know it is a must have for any summer holiday. There are so many to choose from, it can be tricky to know which one is best for you.

We have done the research for you and rounded up the 3 things you need to know about sun protection.

Understanding how to read sun cream labels 

There is currently a large range of sun creams available on the high street, but the question is what do you need to look out for?

The most important thing about sun cream is to make sure you are protected from UV (Ultraviolet) radiation. This reaches us in the form of both UVA and UVB rays. Both are extremely damaging to our skin and have been scientifically linked to skin cancer. This is why it is vital to wear sun cream regardless of whether or not you burn, you need to protect your skin!

What are UVA rays? 

Ultraviolet is electromagnetic radiation and is present in sunlight constituting about 10% of the total light output of the Sun.

UVA rays are present all year round at a consistent level and can cause skin damage. The UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin which leads to brown spots and premature ageing, so it is important to know just how to treat your skin in the sun.

Look for the label

The first thing you need to check when shopping for your sun cream is that it has a UVA logo on the bottle. This shows the sun cream meets the EU requirements for how much UVA protection the product gives you.

UVA protection is measured by a star rating from 1-5. This shows how many UVA rays it’s blocking, in relation to how many UBV rays.

For maximum protection it is important to choose a sun cream with a 4 or 5 star rating to protect your skin. 

UVB rays and SPF

UVB rays are what cause our skin to burn and are the main cause of skin cancer. The levels of UVB rays vary, depending on location and time of day. The hotter the temperature, the more UVB rays there are.

According to a British Skin survey, over a third of Brits don’t actually know what SPF means, so what actually is it?

It stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to the amount of UVB protection the cream provides. The SPF number will tell you how long you are protected for when wearing the cream e.g. SP5 30 will protect your skin from burning 30 times as long as it would without any protection and the same with SPF 50 – 50 times longer.

Does a high SPF mean I am less likely to burn?

Not always, no. There is a misunderstanding about SPF ratings. People assume that SPF 30 provides twice the sun protection as an SPF 15 sun cream.

However, it is important to remember that no SPF will provide you with 100% UVB protection.

SPF 30 will block about 97% of these rays, in comparison to SPF 15 blocking 93% and SPF 50 blocking 98%. People assume that SPF 50 has a much higher protection level than SPF 30, when as you can see there is little difference between them.

Which SPF and UVA star rating should I choose?

No suncare can provide 100% sun protection. However, you can still choose a sun cream that gives an excellent UVA and UVB protection. The higher the SPF, the more UVB protection, and the higher the UVA star rating, the better protection there is against UVA rays.

So, it’s always recommended that you choose a sun cream with both a high SPF and UVA star rating, for the maximum level of sun protection. 

Applying sun cream? 

In order to gain the most protection from your sun cream, you need to apply it correctly.

Experts recommend we use one teaspoon of sun cream per limb and always apply 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Don’t forget to reapply every couple of hours and straight after swimming.

Are branded sun creams better than own brand? 

People often believe that sun creams that are own branded are not as protective as the branded range e.g. Ambre Solaire, Nivea and Malibu, but this is in fact incorrect. The protection level comes from the UVA star rating as previously mentioned and to your surprise, quite often a lot of own brand ranges offer a higher UVA star rating. With some Nivea sun creams offering a 4 star UVA rating whilst Boots own brand Soltan offers a 5 star UVA rating, so take this in to consideration before making your suncream purchases this summer!

View All