(Any products specifically mentioned are just from the experience of one person)
While the weather outside is changeable to say the least at the moment, there’s more unseasonable warmth on the cards.
We all know how important sunscreen is, how easy it can be to miss signs of skin cancer (not to be dramatic) so, what do we do when it’s that unseasonably hot week where it’s wall-to-wall sunshine all day every day?
Crawl into a hole and ignore it? Move to Antarctica for a week? The penguins might enjoy the company but that’s not practical either.
Sweat to death in long sleeves and long trousers? I’d rather hold polystyrene.
We need some SPF – Sun Protection Factor.
I’ve tried many so you might not have to. She says with trepidation. I know everyone’s sensory needs are different but there’s some common factors I’ve found that will definitely improve my sensory experience when applying and reapplying sunscreen.
Before I get into the specifics of what I’ve found to be good for my particular set of sensory needs, What do I actually need from sunscreen?
Protection from UV rays.
UVA and UVB can cause some serious skin damage. Even with sunscreen, you can get permanent physical damage from the sun. On the back of your bottle, there’s some symbols which tell you how well rated against UVA and UVB rays that particular product is.
You might find something like this
This logo tells you your sunscreen has protection for UVA rays. The UVB logo is identical except it says UVB in the middle of the circle instead.
You’ll normally also see a different circular logo with a number of stars on
Something like this. The text at the top might say slightly different things based on what protection is offered.
The more stars, the better the product is at providing that amount of protection i.e. what factor is it?
Factors? What’s that mean?
On the front of your product you’ll see “Factor 30” or “Factor 50+” this is how many times more protected you’ll be than your skin on its own. Light-skinned English people like me need all of the protection we can get. My skin isn’t the best at dealing with the sun. People of colour still need sun protection but the melanin that makes their skin darker offers some natural protection.
Generally, higher is better when it comes to factors of sunscreen.
What’s worth considering is how good at protecting your product is. A 5* rated factor 15 sunscreen is probably better than a 2* rated factor 50 but that said, any protection is good and rather than stressing over the “best” protection, anything is better than nothing so grab a factor 50 you don’t hate the sensory of, and roll with it!
Most sunscreen products also have an amount needed to reach the advertised SPF, a facial SPF requires ¼ teaspoon for your entire face. That doesn’t sound like a lot but get your favourite moisturiser and measure out ¼ teaspoon and try and put all of that over your face! It’s not always easy.
So, before we start getting overwhelmed with choices in the aisles of Boots’ summer section, my various tests of products and ways to mitigate problems might help narrow that choice down a bit, so on we go, there’s information ahead.
Does rubbing it in feel icky? Is it the smell? What about the general texture? Pinpointing your specific needs with this will help you work out ways to negate them and build a toolbox of ways to help yourself.
Sometimes it’s the rubbing in of the sunscreen that causes the problems. We can avoid that in a few different ways, for example using a different type of product or maybe using something to help the application.
A number of brands offer aerosol mist type sprays which require little to no rubbing in. In my personal experience, Garnier Ambre Solaire Invisible Mist is the best for not needing rubbing in but be careful if you’re applying this on a hard floor inside, it will make it slippy! Also be careful if applying outside, if it’s breezy your spray might get blown away and not land on your skin.
If Aerosols aren’t for you, what about using a self-tan mitt or sponge to put a cream-based sunscreen on?
A clean sponge means you don’t have to touch a cream sunscreen if you don’t mind it on your body, but the hands make it a problem. a sponge or self-tan applicator makes it much easier to apply without touching the cream with your hands.
If the scent of sunscreen is your ick, find a fragrance free, made for sensitive skin sunscreen. More and more people are preferring fragrance free options for so many reasons and brands are listening!
My personal favourite is Bondi sands fragrance free range. Bondi sands are Australian, so they know a thing or two about SPF.
Kids roll on sunscreens might be a nice travel friendly option too because the rollerball means you can just roll and go and they’re usually small enough to drop into your bag for re-application
If you’re just outside for a little bit, a “once a day” style sunscreen like ultrasun or p20 might be an option so you just do it once
Reapplication is key
These techniques are great to help with applying sunscreen but we need to be re-applying every few hours. I set reminders on my phone if I’m going to be outside for more than a few hours or in and out of water.
You need to reapply every 2 hours, so I set my reminders are always 10-15 minutes before the end of the 2 hour just in case I need to get to somewhere more appropriate to re-apply
Hopefully this will help people feel safer in the sun when the weather comes round again and we can all be a bit more outdoorsy with confidence when it’s hot!