There’s excitement in the air and, in the words of the guilty pleasure, ‘we’re all going on a summer holiday’. Whether you’re lucky enough to be boarding a plane somewhere exotic or making the most of the sunshine that makes (sometimes brief) appearances on home soil, sunscreen will no doubt be on most people’s holiday ‘essentials’ list. You may even be outside enjoying the sun as part of your job, in which case, sunscreen should be high on your priority list.
Over the years the range of sunscreen on offer from not only chemists but also retailers has increased vastly – you can now choose from creams, gels, sprays, powders and even sunscreen containing glitter. Since once-a-day sunscreens came on the market, they have increasingly grown in popularity as consumers became used to an easier life on the beach (which was so difficult before…). Shockingly, a recent report by Which? has revealed that products advertising just one application can often be rather misleading. After the advertised time period of 6 – 8 hours, the protection offered by four leading creams of this type fell a staggering 74% on average. In some cases, the products have been poorly named as the instructions on Piz Buin One Day Long bottle actually recommend users to ‘reapply frequently, especially after sweating, swimming or towelling’. Essentially…all the time?
On the other hand, one of the earliest once-a-day products Riemann’s P20 actually states there is no need to reapply after water immersion and claims to offer 10 hours of protection. But, once again, consumer testers found a different picture.
It’s not just the once-a-day products that could be falling short of their advertised protection. Tests carried out by Which? also found that two well-known products with SPF30 did not offer as much protection as stated, although this is vehemently denied by the manufacturers Boots and Hawaiian Tropic.
These reports will no doubt cause a degree of unease as we go to get those holiday or work supplies in. So what’s the answer? The most effective way to protect your skin is to completely stay out the sun, but most holidaymakers cannot resist that sun-kissed look. For those of you at work, you won’t have the ability to prevent going outdoors. Also we mustn’t forget that sunlight is also necessary to keep your Vitamin D levels up!
The HSE has clear and detailed guidelines to protect outdoor workers and employers but we’ve found some tips from the NHS to pack in your case during that all important time off:
• Make sure you never burn – this increases your risk of skin cancer
• Apply cream twice if you are going to be out in the sun a long time – 30 minutes before going out and just before going out
• Apply cream thickly – most people don’t put enough on
• Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
• Cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
• Take extra care with children
• Make sure the label of your sunscreen has the letters “UVA” in a circular logo and at least four-star UVA protection
• Only use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB
• Check the expiry date on your cream – most creams have a shelf life of two to three years
So, ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2016, wear sunscreen… But choose wisely.
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