Cosmopolitan (UK)

NOT ANOTHER SUNCARE STORY… Well, it is, but trust us, you haven’t heard this before

SPF? More like WTF. Here’s a quick rundown on everything you need to know about sun protection. Trust us, you haven’t heard it all before…


Great balls of fire, it’s that time of year again. The annual pre-flight pilgrimage to Boots lies ahead, and we find ourselves stranded, clueless, in the aisle of SPF. We know we need suncare, sure. But what else is there to know? A tonne, as it turns out. So we decided to tackle our anti-burning questions head on, with a lot of help from the industry experts.*

UVB rays penetrate your

epidermis, the top layer of skin, and are responsibl­e for (cancerindu­cing) skin damage caused by burning and even tanning. Ouch. UVA rays penetrate the deeper dermis, and can result in depleted collagen, pigmentati­on, eye damage, DNA damage and skin cancers.

Some low-quality sunscreens only protect against burning UVB rays. But broad-spectrum sunscreens, such as Garnier Ambre Solaire

UV Water SPF30, £9, protect against both, and always say so on the bottle. The SPF number helps you work out how long you can theoretica­lly stay in the sun before you burn. If you’d normally burn in 10 minutes, an SPF30 should get you 300 ‘safe’ minutes. But don’t get comfortabl­e: remember skin sustains damage long before it goes red. Abi Cleeve of Ultrasun recommends “SPF20 all year round in the UK, stepping up to SPF30 in the summer, and SPF50 to SPF50+ when going somewhere hot”. On top of that, the star rating on the bottle tells you the level of UVA protection. Always go for four or five stars, or look for a circled ‘UVA.’

You need about a 10p coin’s worth of cream on your face, and a large shot glass on your body. Yes, that’s a lot, but not wearing enough can halve your protection. Most sunscreens that claim to last all day definitely don’t. Sweat, water, friction and UV break sunscreens down, so make sure you reapply every two hours.

Bastard molecules, AKA free radicals, cause longterm damage to the body’s cells and proteins (as if UV damage isn’t enough?!), but antioxidan­ts such as vitamins A, C and E neutralise them. Coola Pina Colada Sunscreen Spray SPF30, £32, has a mix of antioxidan­ts that gives you the protection you need.

“Parasols only protect you from 70% of rays“

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