Holiday Information - Sun Cream Guide

Sun Cream Guide - Holiday Tips

We are exposed to the sun whenever we are outside even if it is cloudy but we can be exposed further when the sun is reflected from the beach, snow or water. One way to protect ourselves is to cover up with tight woven fabrics, to prevent the sun getting through our clothes and also to wear a hat with a brim or cap, sunglasses and long sleeved shirts and trousers.

This however is not always practical and there are times when we want to enjoy the sun. Therefore the application of sun cream when exposed to the sun is very important. There are numerous products available and different creams are more suitable to certain skin types or sunbathing habits and behaviour.

Sun creams are given an SPF factor and the greater the SPF factor the greater the protection against UVB rays which cause burning. A high SPF factor will only help prevent burning - it will not always protect against UVA rays, which are not taken into account when calculating the SPF. UVA protection is usually rated separately between 2 and 4.

What is the SPF Factor?

The SPF factor indicates the time that it takes to get a mild sunburn with and without the sunscreen. So if using a sun cream with SPF8 you can stay in the sun 8 times more than you could without sun cream. Another way of looking at it is that it takes twice as much sun time to get a mild burn when covered with a sunscreen rated SPF 40 as when covered with one rated SPF 20. Please note the the SPF factor does not tell you how long you can stay in the sun. This is dependant on the pigment content of your skin (how light or dark you are), the sun's intensity and time of day you are exposed, cloud cover, and how well you are protected in other ways.

Find out which SPF Factor Sun Cream is right for you!

How to Apply Sun Cream

One common mistake when applying sun cream is that it is often applied too thinly As an average an egg cup amount should be sufficient to cover the whole body and then this needs to be reapplied every 2-3hrs. It should also be noted that most sun creams need to be applied at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun, to allow its activation. Always reapply sun cream after swimming.

When applying sunscreen, pay particular attention to the nose, cheeks, forehead, backs of ears, neck and shoulders, since these are first to catch the sun. Some products contain a temporary colouring to make sure you don't miss any exposed skin, this is especially useful to babies and infants.

However there are a few products now available on the market that can either be used immediately or do not require re-application, check product directions prior to use. In some areas the use of an insect repellent may also be required. Some sun cream products contain the repellant within the cream, if not you must apply an insect repellant on top of your sun cream.

Which clothes give me protection?

As mentioned above clothing can give a degree of protection too and this can be converted into an SPF factor as shown below.

  • Nylon Stockings - SPF 2
  • Hats - SPF 3-6
  • Summer-weight clothing - SPF 6.5
  • Sun-protective clothing - up to SPF 30