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Lifestyle: Sun care

There often seems to be confusion about Sun Protection Factor (SPF) products. Should you use them all year or wait until you're on holiday?

Boots' Suncare Scientific Adviser Mike Brown says: "As spring approaches, we need to start thinking about protecting our skin. During winter there isn't much need for sun protection since we spend so little time out of doors and the sun is at its weakest, although using a day cream with SPF will do no harm. But in spring the sun rapidly gets stronger and we need to start using sun protection on a daily basis, right through to autumn.

"For most people in Ireland, a moisturiser with SPF15 should be adequate for 'accidental' sun exposure. But if you are deliberately sun-bathing, you need to think of using a product with SPF25 or higher.

"The obvious consequence of not protecting your skin is sunburn, but the sun also causes structural damage that over time develops into wrinkles and sagging."

When it comes to sun holidays Brown recommends you step up your sun-care regime: "When on holiday, you shouldn't rely on daily skincare with SPF, as this is only designed for occasional 'unplanned' sun exposure rather than the full onslaught of a summer holiday. Choose a good-quality sun product and go for higher protection (at least SPF25).

"You should also ensure that you have protection against UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin causing lower-level damage. Look out for the UVA 'star rating' symbol on the packs. The more stars the better, with five-star being the best. We recommend that you don't consider anything less than four-star. Boots Soltan offers five stars across the full range of SPF values."

As for choice of products, Brown says: "Don't worry about all the hype around physical and chemical sunscreens. They are both perfectly safe to use and do the same job. The only people who might prefer to use products containing physical sunscreens are those with very sensitive skins. Creams, lotions, sprays, etc all protect the same (provided they are the same SPF and UVA rating). So it is just a matter of personal preference."

Application advice

Brown says: "Apply the product generously at least 15 minutes before you go in the sun and reapply frequently throughout the day. Spread it evenly across your skin. Rub it in but don't overdo it. For the best protection, apply twice: 15 minutes before going into the sun and then immediately before sunbathing.

The Soltan range is available at Boots