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Speedy ways to get sun smart

Staying safe can be mind boggling, so it’s time to swot up


ou would think we’d all be well-versed in how to protect ourselves from the rays by now, especially with the news that skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK. But with a quarter of us admitting that we don’t know what SPF protection numbers actually stand for, it’s high time we all upped our suncare score.


of Brits only wear suncream on holiday, according to a Mintel study. ‘It’s not just the sun abroad that’s dangerous,’ warns Boots suncare expert Clare O’Connor. ‘It’s possible to get significant skin damage in the UK, even if it’s cool or cloudy.’

You only get one skin – don’t risk it!

But what do SPF numbers actually mean?

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    SPF refers to the ability of a suncream to block UV rays, which cause sunburn. The SPF number is a measure of the time it would take you to burn if you weren’t wearing sunscreen, as opposed to the time it would take with sunscreen on. Don’t forget to reapply suncream regularly when you’re in the sun.



    Protects skin from burning for up to 15 times its natural protection


    Protects skin from burning for up to 30 times its natural protection


    Protects skin from burning for up to 50 times its natural protection

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incident of sunburn doubles your risk of skin cancer and also damages your skin for life.

Go on a mole hunt

  1. SPF-moles-V2

    Checking moles is easy with the ABCDE signs of skin cancer. If you notice anything, see your GP. Selected Boots stores offer a Mole Scanning Service*  – book at

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    Asymmetry A benign mole is usually symmetrical

    Border A benign mole has smooth, even borders; melanomas often have uneven outlines

    Colour Most benign moles are all one colour, usually brown. A variety of colours is a warning sign – look for black, red, white or blue, or even various shades of brown

    Diameter A smaller diameter (less than 6mm) is normally a benign mole

    Evolution If a mole starts to grow, itch or bleed, or becomes raised, see a GP right away

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…that’s a full shot glass and the amount of suncream needed to cover an average adult’s whole body. Bottoms up!

‘Can I use last year’s suncream?’

  1. SPF-pot

    According to the NHS, suncream can last 2-3 years unopened. But if it’s been used, check the expiry date or look out for the icon (see below), which will give you the shelf life in months. Remember, it will only last if you store it properly, which means keeping it in a cool, shaded place, such as your bathroom cabinet.


Labels: decoded

  1. SPF-bottels

    Confused about sunscreen labelling? We break it down for you…

    1. These longer-wave ultraviolet (UV) rays penetrate more deeply into the skin and cause premature ageing – and can cause skin cancer

    2. SPF = sun protection factor. Go for a minimum of SPF30 to protect against burning

    3. Look for five stars for maximum UVA protection

    4. This means your suncream has both UVA and UVB protection. It’s sometimes labelled as broad spectrum or will have the letters UVA and UVB on the packaging

    5. These shorter-wave rays penetrate the top layers of the skin and cause the majority of sunburn, as well as skin ageing and cancer



…that’s how many times more sensitive your eyes are to UV damage than your skin. All Boots Opticians sunglasses offer 100% UV protection to help protect eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

Face facts

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    If adding suncream to your AM routine feels like a faff, consider this: 90% of skin ageing is down to sun exposure. So use a daily moisturiser with a high SPF. We love Eau Thermale Avène Very High Protection Mineral Cream SPF50+, £13.50/1,350 points (50ml) – it’s gentle on sensitive skin and doesn’t clog pores.

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Spray and go

Water babes, listen up – Riemann P20 Once A Day Sun Protection Continuous Spray SPF30, £24.99 (150ml), is a suncare high achiever. With clever new continuous spray technology that helps target those hard-to-reach areas, it offers up to 10 hours of five-star UVA/UVB protection from one application and is proven to remain effective, even after swimming. Also available in SPF20.

*Currently available in selected stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and London. **Use biocides safely. Always read the product information and label before use. †Please ensure that any suncream you buy is suitable for your skin type and blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

Words Charlotte Grant-West Photography Pixeleyes

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