The goal of any sun cream is to help protect the skin from damage caused by sun exposure. Sun protection is very important when spending extended periods of time outside. Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. Sunburn does not just happen on holiday. You can burn in Ireland, even when it's cloudy. There's no safe or healthy way to get a tan. Do not rely on sun cream alone to protect yourself from the sun. Wear suitable clothing and spend time in the shade when the sun is at its hottest.
When buying sun cream, you should always make sure:
- It’s a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB
- At least 4-star UVA protection
UVA protection can also be indicated by the letters "UVA" in a circle, which indicates that it meets the EU standard. Make sure the sun cream is in date. Most sun creams have a shelf life of 2 to 3 years. The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measure of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) protection. SPFs are rated on a scale of 2 to 50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with 50+ offering the strongest form of UVB protection. The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection. The higher the star rating, the better.
Most people do not apply enough sun cream. If sun cream is applied too sparingly, the amount of protection it gives is reduced. If you're concerned you might not be applying enough SPF30, you could use a sun cream with a higher SPF.
If you plan to be out in the sun long enough to risk burning, sun cream needs to be applied twice:
- 30 minutes before going out
- Just before going out
Sun cream should be applied to all exposed skin, including the face, neck and ears, and head if necessary. Sun cream needs to be reapplied frequently and according to the manufacturer's instructions. This includes applying it straight after you have been in water, even if it's "water resistant" and after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off.
It's also recommended to reapply sun cream every 2 hours. Water washes sun cream off, and the cooling effect of the water can make you think you're not getting burned. Water also reflects ultraviolet (UV) rays, increasing your exposure. Use water-resistant sun cream if it's likely you'll sweat or have contact with water.
Talk to a Life Pharmacy staff member to see what sun care range would suit your skin.