For most of us, sun cream is a product that spends most of the year locked away in a cupboard until a scorching holiday abroad, or the odd Bank Holiday weekend on the beach. Because, after all, there’s no point or need in wearing sun protection all year round in a country that mimics the climate of a wetter arctic tundra, right?
Wrong. Unfortunately, 80 per cent of the sun's rays are able to pass through clouds, meaning our skin is just as at risk of UV damage on a dark, overcast and wet day as it is on a toasty Jamaican beach. However, despite dermatologists' and skincare companies' best efforts, it seems this information has had little impact on the attitudes of the British population.
According to a recent survey carried out by skincare brand Nivea, 15 per cent of people have chosen not to use sun cream in the UK over the past three years because the weather simply ‘hasn’t been hot enough’ (the sweltering week in August 2014 wasn’t good enough!?), while a staggering 70 per cent admitted to having never used suncream in Britain, ever.
Skin cancer is currently leading as the fastest growing cancer in the UK, with the country experiencing 75,000 new cases every year - levels that are three times higher than they were during the 1970s. As a result, it’s never been more important that our actions and attitudes towards 365 days of sun protection, no matter the weather, are drastically improved.
To help us get started we reached out to Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr Samantha Bunting to discover what products we should be using daily and why.
“In winter there's almost no UVB around, but there is UVA and it can even travel through glass,” says Dr Samantha Bunting . “So, it's vital that you use broad-spectrum protection to mitigate the harmful UVA rays which penetrate more deeply and play a role in hyperpigmentation, sagging and the wrinkling of skin - indeed, we know that at least 80 per cent of the visible signs of ageing are due to UV exposure.
“Great options for UVA cover are zinc oxide (physical) and Mexoryl (chemical),” says Sam. “The key is to apply the product in the correct quantity to deliver the protection level promised - and this means it must be elegant or consumers will tend to chronically under-apply. I like to advise patients to choose a 'proper' sunscreen with a texture that allows them to think of it as primer.”
Thanks to the new legions of smart, light and luxury products, these days finding a sunscreen that’s as perfecting as it is protecting has never been easier. Here are Dr Sam Bunting’s top five picks that deliver our much-needed daily protection.
1. Obagi Sunshield SPF 50, £49.27, buy online
“This is a true mattifying product with micronized Zinc Oxide that works well under make-up in those with oily/combination skin.”
2. Jan Marini Physical Protectant SPF45, £43, buy online
“I love this silky, light yet very high quality sunscreen. Also the fact that it's tinted means there's no white-ish cast.”
3. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Face Ultra-Light Fluid SPF50, £16.50, buy online
“This is a great economic purchase that won't clog pores and comes in a light, elegant formulation.”
4. Heliocare 360 Fluid Cream SPF50, £24.50, buy online
“This non-comedogenic fluid offers good protection and also contains antioxidants like polypodium leucotomos, which provides free radical scavenging capabilities - this in turn helps to offer an extra layer of protection from not only UV but also infrared and visible light.”
5. Eau Thermale Avène Emulsion SPF50, £12, buy online
“This is a light, non-comedogenic and non-irritating formulation that's a very reasonable price.”