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Everything you need to know about… SUN PROTECTION

sun cream

With summer holidays now kicking off, staying safe in the sun is vital for your skin health. One in five of us is at risk of developing skin cancer in our lifetime, however using adequate sun protection could reduce your risk of burning and potentially damaging your skin. We spoke to Dr Adil Sheraz, Consultant Dermatologist at The Skincare Network and The Royal Free Hospital, who answered our most commonly asked questions…

Know your skin type

Skin type is divided into 6 types. If you have pale skin, with light or red hair, are prone to freckles and burn easily then you are likely to be skin type 1 and have the highest risk of skin cancer. People with skin type 6 have black skin, with dark brown eyes and usually never burn.

What does UVA/B/C mean?

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun exists of three types of wavelengths, UVA, B and C. UVC does not penetrate the earth’s atmosphere.

UVB results in sun burn and significantly increases the risk of skin cancer including melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. UVA contribute to ageing of the skin and resulting in wrinkles and pigmentation and also some increase in risk of skin cancer.

What type of sunblock should I use?

If you have skin type 1 or 2 then you have are at high risk of sunburn and should always use a sunblock wth a high SPF – a minimum of 30 SPF with high UVA protection. If you have Mediterranean skin (skin type 4) and tend to tan easily then you will still need to use sun block to prevent sun burn in excessive exposure and for the prevention of skin aging.

How often should I re apply sunblock?

Unfortunately, people often forget sunscreens need to re applied every 2 hours and should ideally be applied 30 mins before being in the sun. If you have been active and sweaty you will need to apply more frequently.

Do I need to re apply when I’ve been in the water?

Yes! Re apply immediately after you have been in the water and don’t forget the areas that are often missed, these are the ears, temples, back and sides of the neck.

Does sunblock protect from the midday sun?

UV radiation is at its peak between the hours of 11am to 3pm.  The UV index is a measure of the amount of skin harming radiation that reaches the earth when the sun it at its highest in the sky (around midday). The UV index in the UK does not exceed 8.

At times of a high UV index it is best to avoid the sun altogether, however sunscreens if applied correctly will offer protection. You will need to use a minimum sun block of SPF 30 and cover up appropriately, spend some time in the shade and wear a broad brimmed hat.

What should I do if I get sunburn?

Studies have shown that having sunburn can significantly increase the risk of deadly skin cancer (melanomas). It is important to avoid sunburn, however if you have burnt then following the steps below should help with resolution.

  1. Get out of the sun!
  2. Cool the skin with a cold bath or applying a cold flannel.
  3. Apply a lotion to soothe the skin such as those containing aloe vera.
  4. Over the counter hydrocortisone cream which is a mild steroid can be applied and will reduce the inflammation
  5. Drink plenty of fluids – red inflamed skin from the sunburn will result in potentially significant amounts of fluid loss.
  6. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be used to reduce pain and help with the inflammation. (Avoid aspirin in children under 16)
  7. If there is blistering or you are unwell then seek medical attention

Healthizmo Editor Chloe Nichols tested out some of the best sunblocks on the market.

“I have very pale skin, which is between a type 1 and a type 2. I usually burn within about 10 minutes of being in the sun, and have only had a real tan once in my life, so a good sunblock is imperative to me.”

HEVL SPF 50 Face Crème


HEVL sunblock protects against High Energy Visible Light (HEVL), rays produced by daylight, whether it’s sunny or just light. Although HEVL is a less well-known ray, it’s an important one as it causes as much damage as UVA and UVB combined together. HEVL is a light non-greasy face cream with a skin-coloured tint, free from MI, SLS, parabens and perfumes.

Cost: £19.95 for 50ml

Get it: Available exclusively from Skin Shop on 

Chloe says: “I loved this as something to wear under my makeup. I usually wear an SPF15 day cream but for the more intense sun, this was perfect. I would use this as a sun screen on holiday as this didn’t make my skin go ghostly white when I applied.”



Developed by skin cancer specialist Dr Andrew Birnie, Altruist uses some of the most sophisticated filters available including micronised titanium dioxide and Tinosorb A2B. It is also highly photo-stable, which means its UV filters do not degrade easily in the sun and is suitable for sensitive skins. Its non-sticky formula means it absorbs quickly and being water-resistant, it stays put.

Cost: RRP £4 for 200ml (sold as a pack of two) or a litre bottle is £14

Get it: Available on Amazon UK

Chloe says: “This is affordable and did the job very well. It didn’t feel gloopy or creamy which was nice, and didn’t smell too strong.”

Brush On Block® Mineral Powder Sunscreen


Brush On Block® is a non-irritating, sweat and water resistant sunscreen that comes in a self-dispensing brush. Unlike chemical sunscreens which work by being absorbed into the skin, Brush On Block® features natural minerals which sit on top of your skin and reflect the sun’s rays away from your body. Since it is not absorbed into the skin, Brush On Block® is less likely to irritate the skin or clog pores, making it ideal for people with acne-prone or sensitive skin.

Cost: RRP £28

Get it: Brush on Block can be bought from

Chloe says: “Oh boy, this was so fun to use. As a make-up addict, this really appealed to me. I applied it on my skin with and without foundation, and it felt really nice both as a sunblock and a transparent powder. The brush is easy to use, you just give it a little shake. This is perfect for holiday if you want something non-sticky on your face.”



P20’s formula combines UVA filters (to safe-guard against premature signs of ageing) and UVB filters (to protect the skin from harmful burning rays) that do not break down when exposed to sunlight and heat. This means P20’s level of protection, which is active 15 minutes after application, remains effective for up to 10 hours. P20 is also clinically proven to be very water resistant, the highest classification available and is effective even after frequent swimming.

Cost: RRP £24.49

Get it: P20 is available from Boots, Superdrug, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Lloyds Pharmacy or online at

Chloe says: “My mum swears by this sunblock and won’t use any other, I can see why. It’s great, and soaks right in to your skin as it is alcohol-based – it would be a great alternative if you don’t like creams. To be safe I still reapply every now and again but it’s a very practical product.”

Mary Kay Suncare

Mary Kay Suncreen

Offering advanced protection against sunburn and premature ageing, this SPF50 sunscreen is water resistant and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes, dermatologist tested, non-comedogenic, suitable for sensitive skin and absorbs quickly, leaving skin feeling soft and moisturised whilst providing UVA/UVB protection.

Cost: RRP £11

Get it: Mary Kay can be bought online

Chloe says: “This one felt really nice to apply and soaked in really quickly. It doesn’t have a pungent smell, and felt like a good every-day sunscreen.”



This exceptionally pure all-natural sun cream is ideal for very sensitive skin and all the family, babies and children. It can be applied to the face or body. The sun screen offers unique triple protection: Broad spectrum UVA, UVB to SPF 30, and powerful organic Antioxidants to scavenge free radicals.

It actively cares for your skin with skin-friendly zinc oxide plus NINE of the very finest organic botanicals, including karanja seed and Fairtrade raw shea butter to replenish and soothe, plus special extracts of chamomile, rosemary and sea buckthorn to calm the skin and counteract the damaging effects of the sun with a powerpack of antioxidants.

Cost: RRP £25

Get it: Odylique can be bought online at

Chloe says: “This felt and looked like a natural product – it smelt great and went on almost like a body butter. I would definitely be more inclined to use it on my face and hands as this is where I suffer with dermatitis, but this is really great for those with sensitive skin all over too.”



Ladival is the first mainstream brand to protect against harmful Infrared-A rays, as well as both UVA and UVB. Ladival is scientifically proven to protect against the broadest spectrum of the sun’s rays and offers protection against four times more of the sun’s rays than standard UVA and UVB sunscreens. They are free from perfume, colourants, preservatives and emulsifiers and suitable for sensitive and eczema prone skin, as well as those who suffer from sun allergy and prickly heat.

Cost: RRP £19.99

Get it: Ladival is available in Boots, ASDA, LloydsPharmacy and Wells Pharmacy

Chloe says: “Ladival is hands-down my favourite sunblock product. It’s affordable, doesn’t smell terrible, applies nicely and doesn’t leave the dreaded white cast (I was using the factor 50 spray). An absolute winner.”

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