What SPF Factor Sunscreen Should I Use?


When a spot check was done of the British public to see what factor SPF sunscreen they should be using, the answers included 15, 12 and 50.

For the ones who said 50, top marks, as the British Skin Foundation says the minimum SPF people should be using is 30, regardless of whether you want a tan.

Hermione Lawson from the charity revealed that some people view skin cancer as the less scary one. "They think it's not that serious because it can be cut out," she says. However if left unchecked, the most serious form of skin cancer - malignant melanoma - can be fatal.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, and rates continue to rise, the foundation says on its website. At least 100,000 new cases are now diagnosed each year, and the disease kills over 2,500 people each year in the UK - that's seven people every day.

What part does sunscreen have to play in warding off cancer?

"Sunscreens are products combining several ingredients that help prevent the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin," says the British Skin Foundation. "Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB."



Clothing should always be your first line of defence against damage from the sun, with sunscreen being used in addition to clothes, including a hat, t-shirt and UV protective sunglasses.

Find the right sunscreen

Use a sunscreen of SPF30 (SPF stands for ‘Sun Protection Factor’) and refers to the level of protection against UVB radiation, linked to skin cancer. Look for a four or ideally five star UVA rating on the bottle which will help protect from UVA radiation, associated with skin ageing. You may also find that the UVA rating is represented by the letters ‘UVA’ inside a circle. Keep babies and toddlers should be kept out of direct sunlight.

Get your timing right

Skin needs time to absorb sunscreen, so apply generously about 20 to 30 minutes before going out. Reapply frequently at least every two hours, as it can come off when sweating or through rubbing.

Seek shelter!

The sun tends to be strongest in the middle of the day, so find some shade typically between 11am and 3pm, especially if you are very fair skinned. Just 10 minutes of strong sunshine is all it takes to burn pale skin.

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