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Suncare quiz

How sun smart are you?

Get this: four in five cases of melanoma skin cancer are preventable. So if you don’t know your UVAs from your UVBs, it’s time to swot up


road-spectrum, infrared protection, mineral and chemical formulations… the sunscreen aisle offers more options than Beyoncé has outfit changes. Yet despite having all these products at our fingertips – plus NHS advice to stay out of direct sunlight from 11am-3pm between March and September in the UK, and to always cover up with suitable clothing – skin-cancer rates are higher now than they were in the 1970s. Sounds like there might be some suncare dunces out there! And with Sun Awareness Week running from 8-14 May, now’s the ideal time to enrol in a refresher course at suncare school. Quiet at the back, please!

1st period


Don’t worry: this is an algebra-free zone! But it’s worth getting your head around a few numbers – namely those used to signify UVB and UVA protection. First, a quick refresher: ‘UVB rays burn the top layer of your skin and can contribute to skin cancer, while UVA rays cause premature ageing, sun allergies and pigmentation marks, and can also lead to a higher cancer risk,’ explains Emilie Montassier, training manager at Bioderma. In other words, you need a product that blocks both. It’s recommended you wear a product with at least SPF15 every day, as this only lets 7% of UVB radiation through (SPF50 only lets through 2%, which is advisable for more intense sun exposure). Look at the UVA rating, too, which is measured in stars – and just like hotels, five is the best. As both are important, check that the product packaging mentions the two types of protection. Got it? Onto your next class…

2nd period

A, B, Cs

If you’re blessed with beauty spots (aka moles), keep an eye out for changes in:

A = asymmetry

B = border

C = colour

D = diameter

E = elevation or enlargement

Concerns? Boots’ Mole Scanning Service, available in 50 stores, offers consultations – go to*.

The sunscreen aisle offers more options than Beyoncé has outfit changes… yet skin cancer rates are higher than in the 1970s

3rd period


It’s not just on Instagram that filters are a hot topic. In suncare, there are two types: chemical and mineral. ‘Think of chemical filters as sponges, absorbing UV radiation away from skin, and mineral ones as mirrors, bouncing UV off the skin,’ says Emilie. So, which is better? In fact, both offer the same protection – it just depends on what suits you. Mineral filters, containing titanium and zinc oxide, tend to be more comfortable for those with sensitive skin. Thinking of the white paste that cricketers smear on their noses? Formulations are now more lightweight – we like Eau Thermale Avène Very High Protection Mineral Cream SPF50+, £13.50/1,350 points (50ml). If you go for a product with chemical filters – such as Bioderma Photoderm Max SPF50+ Spray, £17.10/ 1,710 points (200ml) – remember to apply it 15 minutes before heading outside, to ensure it’s completely dry before the first ray of sun hits your skin.

4th period

Physical education

Whether you’re swimming in the south of France or jogging along the prom in Brighton, alfresco exercise demands a water-resistant formula and more frequent application (thanks, sweat). We rate Garnier Ambre Solaire UV Sport Multi-Resistance Protection Mist SPF50 £9/900 points (200ml), which has been tested under extreme conditions (think desert ultra-marathons). It contains UV Stretch Technology, which allows skin to ‘breathe’ while you work out – so you won’t become a sticky mess.

Sunscreen has come a long way since the thick, white gloop your mum slathered you in

5th period


Head Your parting exposes your scalp – a prime burn site – so a wide-brimmed hat is a must. Spritz on Soltan Head & Hair Dry-Touch Transparent Suncare Spray SPF30, £4/400 points (75ml), too.


Eyes Peepers are 10 times more sun-sensitive than skin, so wear UV-resistant sunnies, such as Radley Sun Amber Sunglasses, £70. Skin around your eyes is also susceptible to sunburn, so apply an SPF cream – try Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Eye Cream SPF20 (15ml; see in store or online for details).


Body Adults need 2-3tbsp of sunscreen to cover their whole body. No scrimping!


Shoulders and toes A survey by Nivea found 58% of people forget to protect their ‘sun terraces’ – that’s the places the sun hits first. So SPF your nose, shoulders and feet, people.

6th period


Sunscreen has come a long way since the thick, white gloop your mum slathered you in when you were little. You can thank the experts in white coats for creating innovative formulas, such as easily applied, long-lasting Soltan Once Kids 8 Hour Play Hypoallergenic SuncareLotion SPF50+, £10/1,000 points (200ml), and Garnier Ambre Solaire Sensitive Advanced Protecting And Hydrating Face Mist SPF50, £6.50/650 points (75ml) – so light you can spray it over make-up. It’s never been easier to stay protected!



Clare O’Connor,

Boots suncare expert

Clare highlights the misdemeanours that could see you kept back after class…

DON’T Leave SPF in the car ‘Your back seat or glove box is no home for suncream. My research team took the temperature inside a car on a sunny day and it was over 60°C! Heat reduces the efficacy of the product, so store SPF in a cool place.’


DON’T assume that wearing SPF = breakouts ‘It’s just as likely that UV exposure, rather than your sunscreen, has caused any blemishes. Look for a product that’s designed specifically for the face (they are usually free from perfume) and do a patch test on an unexposed area, such as the inside of your wrist,
to see how you react.’


DO choose the correct sun protection for you ‘Not sure which products will suit your skin type and lifestyle? Take the quiz below to find out. My tip? Go for the highest SPF – you don’t pay extra, so why not get your money’s worth?’

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*Service provided in partnership with ScreenCancer UK, subject to availability. Conditions, exclusions and charges apply.

Words Charlotte-Grant West Main photography John Rowley Hair, make-up and nails Lisa Valencia
at Carol Hayes Beauty direction Donna Francis Model Adeline at M+P Models Other photography Matthew Walder, Pixeleyes With thanks to The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi resort, Maldives


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