Sun Ready? Understanding your skin type

Skin type affects the degree to which some people burn and the time it takes them to burn.

How do sunscreens work?

Sunscreens protect your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting UVA and UVB rays. The SPF rating revels the relative amount of sunburn protection that a sunscreen can provide an average user when correctly used.

Sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15 are recommended. You should be aware than an SPF of 30 is not twice as protective as an SPF of 15; rather, when properly used, an SPF of 15 protects the skin from 93% of UVB radiation, and an SPF30 sunscreen provides 97%.

SPF ratings only need apply to protection from UVB rays (the burning ones) not UVA rays (the ageing ones). Look for ‘broad-spectrum’ protection.

Cosmetics and Sunscreen

Makeup and daily moisturisers with SPF will protect your skin and are largely sufficient for everyday use. However, they do need to be reapplied. So if visiting a hot country stick with a dedicated SPF.

Remember, you would need approximately seven times the usual amount of foundation and fourteen times the usual amount of power to get the stated SPF.

Always check the expiration date before using sunscreens. Most sunscreens are designed with specially formulated stabilizers that protect its potency for up to three years, but that’s assuming you don’t expose it to excess heat. Leaving sunscreen in intense heat for a prolonged amount of time may make it less effective. So store your sunscreen in a cool place, and while you’re at the beach keep it in the shade.

Beware that certain medications can increase your chances of getting burnt, e.g. tetracycline, diuretics, and painkillers such as Celebrex, Aleve and Ibuprofen. They make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, specifically to UVA wavelengths, which means you need to be extra vigilant about sunscreen when you’re taking them.

How can I maximize my sun protection?

Because the active sunscreen ingredients will not usually block out the complete spectrum of UVA and UVB rays, sunscreens by themselves might not offer enough protection to prevent skin cancer or ageing.

To thoroughly protection yourself follow these action steps:

• Seek shade

• Wear protective clothing, such as hats, shirts and sunglasses

How to apply your sunscreen

Rules & Regulations

• When you currently buy sunscreen containing UVA protection in the UK you may notice a UVA star rating on the packaging. The stars range from 0 to 5 and indicate the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB.

• Be aware that if you choose a low SPF it may still have a high level of stars, not because it is providing lots of UVA protection, but because the ratio between the UVA and UVB protection is about the same. That’s why it’s important to choose a high SPF as well as a high UVA protection (e.g. a high number of stars).

• In Europe, sunscreens must offer UVA protection that is at least one third as potent as the SPF (sunburn protection factor), the measure of the product’s ability to shield against UVB rays that burn the skin. In other words, if a product advertises SPF 30, its UVA protection must be at least 10. Only when a product achieves this requirement can it be labelled with a UVA logo, the letters ‘UVA’ printed in a circle.

How can I protect my kids?

Keep them covered: One of the best ways to protect your child's skin from the sun's rays is to keep them covered up with loose-fitting, tightly-woven clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.

Seek out the shade: Set up your children's play areas in the shade so they are less likely to suffer from over-exposure to the sun. The sun is usually at its most intense between 11am and 3pm, so shade is even more important during this time.

Stay sunscreen safe: As a general rule, children over six months old should wear a sunscreen with SPF15 or higher with UVA protection. Although the British Skin Foundation recommends that children should use a minimum SPF 30 product with UVA protection. Of course it is important to try and keep sun exposure to a minimum for young children and especially babies under the age of 6 months. Try to keep them in the shade whenever possible and certainly during the hottest time of the day and keep them covered with t-shirts and hats. Sunscreen should be applied 5 to 10 before going out in the sun and re-applied every couple of hours throughout the day if outdoors. Remember to re-apply if your child has been playing in the water and never use sunscreen to extend the time they should normally spend in the sun.

Protect their "peepers": Children's eyes can be more sensitive to UV light than those of adults, so they need protection. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses for your child with 100 percent UV filtration (toy sunglasses may provide no protection at all) and also a wide-brimmed hat or sun cap.

Don’t leave good skincare at the door on your next holiday

Cabin pressure and air conditioning on planes can severely dehydrate the skin. Whilst you may have packed a light weight moisturiser to use abroad, decant a small amount of a rich cream, such as the Dr Nick Lowe SIO Lift and Repair Night Cream, to use on the flights will help keep your skin soft and supple.

Starting your holiday early, with large consumptions of alcohol, can lead to increased blood flow in the skin, causing under-eye puffiness. Spending a large amount of time reclining on a plane, combined with the high cabin pressure can make it worse. Perk up those peepers by applying the Dr Nick Lowe Puffy Eyes Gel whilst flying.

Do you know the rush of heat feeling you experience when stepping off a plane in a hot country? If you arrive in a sunny place during the day you should apply your SPF as the cabin crew prepares for landing. Sun damage can occur in a very short space of time, if you are walking from the plane to the airport, or waiting for a taxi you could be damaging your skin.

If you can only take one skin care item from home whilst on holiday take your cleanser. A sudden change in cleansers can disrupt skin’s acid balance and cause breakouts.

Food for Thought

Because the active sunscreen ingredients will not usually block out the complete spectrum of UVA and UVB rays, sunscreens by themselves might not offer enough protection to prevent skin cancer or ageing.

You should not only apply your sunscreen but eat it too!

• Lycopene is a potent antioxidant which protects the skin against sunburn and skin cancer. A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology suggests the potent antioxidant lycopene acts as a sunscreen from within. Tomatoes are the richest source of the antioxidant, especially when cooked (heating tomatoes releases more of the lycopene).

• Polyphenols are one of the most powerful botanical antioxidants, offering unrivalled action against free radical exposure. Dark chocolate, green and black teas are all rich in polyphenols.

• Heliocare Fern Extract capsules can be taken daily before and during sun exposure to help protect and repair the skin barrier.

Of course this doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen. These help boost your SPF but don’t replace it.

Consider and implement all this information and you can be safe in the sun!