Bake Break: The top five SPFs
Scalding yourself is so 20th Century, says Sarah Caden, who has five top SPFs
La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Wet Skin Gel SPF 50+, €19.95, available nationwide
We Irish struggle with the SPF reapplication business. Surely, we think, if I've put on nuclear-strength SPF in the morning, it should last all day? No. You need to use plenty of it, and often. Like, every couple of hours, and more often if you're swimming. We know it's a drag, so, to make life easier, here's a light gel you can apply on wet skin, straight out of the sea or pool. "It's non-sticky, soaks in straight away, you hardly know it's there," said one panellist. "Key qualities."
Best for Him
Image Skincare Prevention+ Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 50, €47.50, for stockists, see renaissanceskincare.com
Everyone likes a spray SPF, but men most of all. Men tend to dislike creamy sun products and saunter into sunburn as result. This product gives a continuous dry mist of protection, and includes infrared protection from those very deep-penetrating and damaging rays. This is what makes it good for sports, when exposure can be prolonged. The spray is great for heads lacking in hair. "I like the fact that you can't really feel it and don't have to rub it in a lot," said a panellist.
Best Handy Helper
Bioderma Photoderm Max Aquafluide Pocket SPF 50+, €9, selected pharmacies nationwide
In holiday terms, there are few things more irritating than flying with hand luggage and not being able to pack any of the bottles of SPF that are in your bathroom. Just because there's only 50ml in that 150ml bottle after your last holiday, doesn't make it airport-security friendly. This is a handy, cabin-friendly product, high in coverage, matt in finish, and suitable for face and body. "This is nice stuff," said a panellist, "and handy to have in your handbag on a city break."
Best for the Family
Vichy Ideal Soleil Anti-Sand Milk SPF 30, €19.50, pharmacies nationwide
Anyone who's had a child knows that while the beach is great in theory, sand can be the enemy. It gets everywhere, a lot of kids hate how it feels on their skin, and suddenly the seaside idyll is shattered. There are several anti-sand sun products out there, which have a special texture that allows you just brush the sand off your skin. This is a nice example for all the family - it's high in protection but also suitable for very sensitive skin. "This is an easily absorbed thin fluid and the anti-sand thing is like magic," a panellist said.
Best for Hair
Phytoplage Protective Sun Veil Mist, €19, selected pharmacies nationwide
Your hair can really come a cropper in the sun. Sun, sea and swimming pools can leave it dry and frazzled - and coloured hair can take on a horrible hue. Some people like a wet-look hair SPF, but if you want an invisible armour, check out this nourishing dry oil. Its UV filters are great on a full mane of hair, but will also protect the scalp of anyone with thin or bald patches. "This has a delicious holiday-ish smell," said one panellist "and my hair came home well-conditioned."
We Irish are the worst sun worshippers. At home, our unprotected exposure is bad enough - but holidays are a whole other story. The fact that we like to sit baking ourselves for hours is ill advised - but who's going to stop doing that? Our loopy logic is that this balances out the months of cold and dark we suffer, and we're not going to stop. But we could sun more smartly.
Top tips are to apply about double the product you think you need and reapply it regularly. Also, the difference in protection between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is minimal, but the chemical count is far higher in the latter. So, if you have sensitive skin, try SPF 30 and reapply hourly.