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The most – and least – effective kinds of sunscreens on the market
Ever popular, lotions and creams are an everyday classic for several good reasons. Fast-absorbing, they are safe for the entire family, with a multitude of brands on the market to suit any budget. Perfect for both face and body, they usually contain a mix of chemical and physical sunblockers for a high level of sun protection.
A relic from childhood, zinc sunscreen still has a place in your family’s beach bag. Apply a stripe of this brightly coloured stick down your children’s noses, across their cheeks and on their ears to give extra protection (in addition to their usual suncream). There are now clear zincs available, but we love the retro blast-fromthe-past neon green, orange and pink.
Reformed beach bunnies who used to slather on olive oil to tan (but now know better) will love using a sunscreen oil. Water-resistant and hydrating, they are great for sweaty humid days, playing sport, and hitting the beach or pool. Just avoid using on your face, as they can leave already oily skin types with an unwanted shine.
While you can dust a zinc-infused SPF powder over your foundation to help it set, or to top up your sun protection just before leaving the office for the day, it’s not the longest-lasting or highest-protection available.
As it will also wash or sweat off easily, use SPF powder as additional protection rather than your base.
It’s probably not enough to use moisturiser with SPF as your only protection, says Tony Matthews from the Cancer Council. ‘It’s not as effective as an actual sunblock; it could be an SPF30-rated compound, but by the time it’s diluted with other ingredients, the SPF value is closer to SPF 10/12.’ He suggests applying moisturiser under your suncream.
Pills that claim to prevent sunburn and boost tanning have hit shelves recently, but the Cancer Council says that such products have yet to be proven to offer any level of SPF. Featuring astaxanthin, an antioxidant found in wild salmon, they may offer a vitamin boost to support skin and hair health, but can’t be depended on to provide adequate sun protection.