Does the best sun cream come in cheap packages? Absolutely, writes Katie Robertson

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

When it comes to sun cream, it’s vital that we’re using products that safely and successfully protect our skin from the harmful effects of UV rays - but does protection come at a price? Always on the hunt for a bargain I’ve been scaling the shelves to see which budget brand sun creams can really take the heat and which were more style than substance. First though, we delved into our experts directory to gather some information on tanning and the importance of sun cream for skin.

We know the temptation is to spend the first morning of your holiday morning lathered in SPF 30 before whipping out the cooking oil by lunchtime, but after catching up with Consultant Dermatologist,  Dr Nick Lowe , we discovered that whilst speedy sunning might feel like you’re getting a better tan, a safer and slower regime will in fact ensure a much longer lasting glow.

“The best healthy looking tan is achieved through sunscreeen protected skin. By gently exposing adequately sun creamed skin, the body has more time to build up a protective level of melanin, causing the skin to darken and help shield the body from UV rays. A tan that’s come as a result of burnt skin will shed much more rapidly as the skin quickly flakes off to make room for new cells to form.

“It’s also really important to know what skin type you have. As a rough guide those with olive skin or darker don’t need higher than SPF 15, medium to pale skin tones should be using an SPF30 whilst very fair tones should be using no less than an SPF 50. Roughly apply 10p coin / 2tsps of suncream to each area of the body and apply a minimum of 20 minutes before exposure to the sun."

However, if you’re unlucky enough to get caught out here’s a few tips and tricks to help soothe the burn. “Cool down with regular tepid showers twice or more every 24 hours, use a soothing  calamine lotion  on affected areas and when the skin starts to flake make sure to use a  moisturising body wash  followed by a  rich body moisturiser  to keep the skin hydrated and nourished. If blisters form, apply cold swatches of water or soak in a cool bath infused with a capful of white wine vinegar.”

Best spray

For the days when you’re flying solo and don’t have a right hand man to spot your sun cream opt for the  Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear Protect Spray SPF 20 , £7.25, which uses an innovative spray nozzle that can be used from any angle, allowing you to reach all those difficult nooks and crannies, ensuring a perfectly even coverage. 100% transparent this spray is also ideal for avoiding the all too typical ghost face issues.

Best long lasting

Whilst it’s a little more pricey than the others, the  Piz Buin 1 Day Long Lotion SPF 30 , £13, will last you twice as long due to it’s patented technology that provides skin with up to 6 hours of protection. Super resistant to water and sweat you can run, swim or dance to your hearts content because this sun cream ain’t going anywhere. The added bonus of vitamin E also helps to neutralise free radicals, helping to fight the signs of premature skin ageing.

Best for Scalp

From a young age I’ve always fallen into the trap of thinking that my extremely thin veil of blonde hair will shield my head from the sun, only to wake up the next day with 3rd degree burns on my scalp - super painful and the peeling to follow is just bad news all round. To avoid my foolish faux pas try the  Malibu Clear Scalp and Hair Protector SPF 15 , £2.32, which sprays all over the head without leaving hair greasy or slimy. Resistant to sweat and quick drying this little product will officially change the face of your tanning traumas.

Best Booster

If, like me, you’re tipping the pale scale at an albino average and need some extra help in the tanning department, then the  Soltan Protect and Tan Ultra-Light Texture Suncare Spray SPF 30 , £7, is an absolute dream product. Formulated with an innovative ingredient that helps stimulate your body's natural tanning production you can sit tight knowing that you’ll be topping up your tan long after you’ve left the beach. Not to mention it’s got a 5 star rating for protection against UVA rays so you know you’re in safe hands here.

Best decorative

Perfect for when you want a more indulgent, glamorous finish, the  Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect Sun Cream SPF 25 , £6.98, is blended with a touch of light reflecting mica mineral shimmer that highlights the skin leaving a gorgeous, glowy effect. With a rich, luxurious formula that contains skin nourishing antioxidants and island botanicals this coconutty suncream is as practical as it is pretty.