Smart sunscreens to keep you safe this summer: Are these new products better ...

Smart sunscreens to keep you safe this summer: Are these new products better ...
Smart sunscreens to keep you safe this summer: Are these new products better ...

The heatwave might be over for now, but with the weather due to heat up again this weekend, experts warn that people shouldn't drop their vigilance when it comes to protecting their skin against the sun's damaging rays in the UK.

In fact we should wear sunscreen whatever the weather — and all year round, says Dr Ophelia Veraitch, a consultant dermatologist at London's Cranley Clinic.

'That's because damaging ultraviolet rays can travel through clouds and even through windows,' she says.

There are two key parts to a sunscreen. 

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of how well it will protect skin from UVB rays, the type that cause sunburn and contribute to most forms of skin cancer, and ideally this should be 30 or higher.

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A product should also protect against UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, contributing both to the risks of cancer and premature ageing. 

Sunscreens with the highest five-star rating offer the most UVA protection.

Sunscreens are either chemical or physical, explains Dr Faheem Latheef, a consultant dermatologist and honorary senior lecturer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. 

'Chemical sunscreens work like a sponge, absorbing the sun's rays, and contain one or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, or octinoxate. 

'These sunscreens tend to be easier to rub into your skin without leaving a white residue.'

Physical (mineral) sunscreens act like a shield, sitting on the surface of your skin to deflect the sun's rays.

They contain titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide, or both — 'if you have sensitive skin that reacts to certain chemical filters, opt for this type of sunscreen,' advises Dr Latheef. Some products offer a mixture of the two.

'Mineral sunscreens can be thicker and whiter than chemical sunscreens, so some may not be the best for acne-prone skin,' warns Dr Veraitch.

Whatever product you choose, she says, it's important to apply a sunscreen to your face, neck and any other exposed areas every day in all weathers, all year round and leave 30 minutes before going outside. Then reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.

But with a bewildering array of sunscreens to choose from how do you know which will do a good job?

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Here, Judith Keeling asked Dr Latheef and Dr Veraitch for their verdicts on a selection of recently launched sunscreens, which she then tested at home. 

We then rated them.

Root + Fruit Bright Start SPF 30 broad spectrum UV shield, UVA protection level not stated, £39/50ml, wildsciencelab.com

Root + Fruit Bright Start SPF 30 broad spectrum UV shield, UVA protection level not stated, £39/50ml, wildsciencelab.com

CONTAINS ANTI-AGEING VITAMINS 

Root + Fruit Bright Start SPF 30 broad spectrum UV shield, UVA protection level not stated, £39/50ml, wildsciencelab.com.

CLAIMS: 'This cream is made with vitamin C, gardenia Florida fruit extract and 'antioxidant vitamin E, nourishing sweet almond oil and organic aloe vera, scented with a stimulating blend of six essential oils'.

Use daily to 'help restore equilibrium, maintain daily defence and help boost natural healthy glow'.

EXPERT VERDICT: 'This is a chemical sunscreen that will offer protection against the sun but from looking at the ingredients, I wouldn't recommend this product for those with sensitive skin,' says Dr Veraitch.

'Some — such as limonene and citral — are known to commonly cause allergies or reactions.

'And the numerous essential oils in this product will make it smell nice, but again, they're big culprits for causing skin sensitivities.

'I am surprised that a brand claiming to offer natural sustainable products that are cruelty-free has added octocrylene — it's been well publicised that this can damage coral.

'There is evidence that antioxidant vitamins C and E can offer protection against UV rays and also have an anti-ageing effect on skin.'

CONSUMER REVIEW: This has a delicious floral smell but was surprisingly thick and took ages to rub into my face.

WEARABILITY RATING: 5/10

SKIN HEALTH RATING: 5/10

Altruist Face Fluid SPF 50, five-star UVA protection, £9/50ml, altruistsun.com

Altruist Face Fluid SPF 50, five-star UVA protection, £9/50ml, altruistsun.com

DEVELOPED BY A SKIN CANCER SURGEON

Altruist Face Fluid SPF 50, five-star UVA protection, £9/50ml, altruistsun.com

CLAIMS: This super-light formulation was developed by Dr Andrew Birnie, a consultant dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon. 

'Moisturising antioxidant facial sunscreen . . . enriched with vitamin E to help prevent cellular damage from UV-induced free radicals.' 

Acne-prone and sensitive skin friendly.

EXPERT VERDICT: 'This is probably my favourite of all the sunscreens I reviewed,' says Dr Veraitch. 

'It's evident from the formulation that a bona fide expert designed this sunblock, which combines a mixture of physical and chemical sunscreens. 

'It's more than just a sunscreen however as it contains other beneficial ingredients such as vitamin E, known to have powerful antioxidant properties, to help protect the skin against damage from pollutants and the sun, and niacinamide, to improve pigmented areas.

'And because it's non-comedogenic — which means it won't clog your pores — it's also suitable for those prone to acne.

'It's also paraben-free — these are preservatives that some people's skin can react to.'

CONSUMER REVIEW: This comes in a handy size that would easily fit in a bag. It felt luxurious and rubbed in easily so make-up stayed put on top of it.

WEARABILITY RATING: 9/10

SKIN HEALTH RATING: 9/10

Green People Scent-Free Facial suncream SPF 30, UVA protection level not stated, £20/50ml, greenpeople.co.uk

Green People Scent-Free Facial suncream SPF 30, UVA protection level not stated, £20/50ml, greenpeople.co.uk

VEGAN-FRIENDLY AND ORGANIC

Green People Scent-Free Facial suncream SPF 30, UVA protection level not stated, £20/50ml, greenpeople.co.uk

CLAIMS: An 'easily absorbed formulation' containing antioxidants (from rosemary and edelweiss) plus green tea. 

Vegan, with 73 per cent certified organic ingredients. Suitable for sensitive skin and those prone to prickly heat, it is also non-comedogenic.

EXPERT VERDICT: 'This is designed to appeal to 'green and clean-minded' consumers,' says Dr Latheef.

'Some people are worried about using chemicals on their skin — in particular there are concerns that these might penetrate the skin and get into the bloodstream although there is little current evidence to show this poses a health risk.

'The SPF 30 is the minimum I'd recommend, but the fact that it contains zinc oxide as a physical sunscreen is a plus because this gives protection without the need for other chemicals. I'm personally less convinced by the antioxidant claims because there's little evidence creams marketed as antioxidant have a beneficial effect.

'And although it's marketed as non-greasy and non-comedogenic and scent-free, it contains a number of plant oils and extracts that could cause breakouts or be a problem in patients with eczema or sensitivity to natural fragrances. 

'I would like to see a UVA star rating.'

CONSUMER REVIEW: A silky cream that rubs in without a trace and gives your face a light glow. Virtually scentless.

WEARABILITY RATING: 7/10

SKIN HEALTH

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