Choosing the Right Sun Cream

Posted by Corinne Thomsett on

Choosing the Right Sun Cream

The nights are drawing in, the air is getting colder, the leaves are starting to fall. It’s that time of year when we all start thinking about... choosing the right sunscreen for a winter sun holiday!

At the risk of sounding like your mum, sun cream is important. Skin cancer can happen to ANYONE and it’s really not pretty - it’s usually quite scabby in fact. But there are 100’s of different brands of sun cream, and a dozen different factor ratings. There is also a UVA star rating somewhere on every bottle, but what does it all mean? Which sun cream is right for you?

Sun Protection Factor (SPF):

The SPF of the sun cream is always easy to spot. It’s a big number slapped right on the front of the bottle. The number shows the level of protection that you will get from UVB rays.



Low protection

6   to 14   (i.e. SPF 6 and 10)

Medium protection

15 to 29   (i.e. SPF 15, 20 and 25)

High protection

30 to 50   (i.e. SPF 30 and 50)

Very high protection

50 +         (i.e. SPF 50+)

The British Association of Dermatologists recommends that you use a minimum of factor 30. At Travel Toiletries 2 Go, we wouldn’t use anything less, sunburn hurts!

UVA Star System:

This is a UK initiative. All sun cream sold in the UK now has a star rating for UVA protection. Choose a sun cream with at least a 4-star rating. BUT BEWARE a high level of stars DOES NOT mean lots of protection if you’ve only chosen a low factor. It just means that the UVA and the UVB rating is about the same.

Choosing the right sun cream: UVA star rating

You should also check that your chosen sun protection is photostable. ‘Photostability’ means that the filters do not break down in the sun - that would be pretty useless sun cream!

How Much Sun Cream Should You Apply?

The answer is ‘a lot more than you do!’ A study showed that adults applying sun cream apply less than HALF what they need for adequate protection, and often miss bloomin’ great big patches, like their back, neck and feet. Recipe for sunburn that! When slapping on the sun lotion, I personally do my first layer before getting dressed (saves grease stains on clothing, and massaging sand into my skin) and I always start at the bottom and work up.

  • Feet - toes and soles. Anyone who has missed either of those areas will tell you how painful and inconvenient sunburned feet are!
  • Legs - front, back and either side, from your bottom to your ankles.
  • Bum - I’m not into nudism, but when you stretch out on a sunbed, your swimming costume will move - a burnt bum is not something I fancy!
  • Back - all the way from my bum to my hairline, and round the sides.
  • Front - all of it. I don’t plan on going topless either, but fabric moves, and it’s better to cover more than you need, than to have bare bright-red patches!
  • FACE & NECK I use a specialist facial sun cream, because the skin on my face is very sensitive and prone to spots. Pinning all my hair off my face, i make sure I get right to my hairline, and don’t miss my nose!
  • EARS!! The tops, the sides, and behind them.
  • Parting - If you’ve fair skin and fair hair, and aren’t wearing a hat, sun cream on your parting is a must - better to have to wash your hair before going out to dinner than not being able to brush it for a week because you’ve sunburned your head!

You should re-apply your sun cream every 4-6 hours (even the ‘once’ ones), because sweat will make it run and be less effective. You should also re-apply every time you get out of the pool, as even the water resistant ones wash off - they are only actually better at protecting you whilst in the water. If i’m planning on swimming a lot, or playing any water-sports, I actually stick a swimming t-shirt (aka a rash-vest)  on to go in the water. Something my mum insisted on when I was small, and having seen other people with blistered shoulders, I think it’s a jolly good idea!

Looking after your skin is important, so we have these handy miniture bottles which will slip perfectly into your hand luggage, and are just the right size for you to apply a layer of sun cream to faces, ears and neck on your flight, so you don’t get turned into a crispy critter the instant you land.

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