Protecting your skin with SPF is essential – but it’s another expense when the cost of living means we’re trying to reduce spending. A UK-wide survey this year revealed one in 10 people don’t wear sunscreen as it is too expensive. And people on the lowest incomes are least likely to wear it. Skin experts such as oncology pharmacist Susanna Daniels would like the Government to reclassify SPF as an essential not a beauty product, which would remove the 20 per cent VAT on products.
“Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, killing around 2,300 people a year,” says Susanna, who is CEO of the charity Melanoma Focus.
“However, nearly nine in 10 cases are preventable by staying safe in the sun and avoiding sunbeds. Ultraviolet radiation causes DNA damage to skin cells which builds up over time.
Experts to SPF essential remove per “Wearing a high SPF sunscreen is hugely important. Therefore, anything we can do to make sunscreen more accessible will cut the overall incidence of skin cancer and could help save lives.”
In response, Superdrug has reduced the cost of its own brand range Solait by 20 per cent, with prices frozen until the end of 2023.
This means prices in store and online are down to £3.59 for Solait suncream, and £2.79 for Solait Kid’s Roll-On Sun Cream SPF50+.
Why sun cream? “Sunscreens filter out the sun’s damaging UV rays (UVA and UVB),” says Dr Jason Thomson, head of medical at Skin + Me.
“Chemical sunscreen filters absorb UV light and convert it into heat and include ingredients such as octinoxate and avobenzone. Mineral sunscreen filters are compounds such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that reflect and scatter UV light.”
Which one should you choose?
Go for a broad-spectrum high SPF.
“SPF shows how good a sunscreen is at blocking out UVB rays – the main cause of sunburn and cancer,” says Dr Thomson. Experts advise SPF30 for adults and SPF50 for children. Next look for the star rating to tell you how protective the product is. “Choose at least four out of five stars, or make sure the bottle has a UVA sign in a circle, the European seal of approval,” says Dr Thomson.
How much to apply Studies show most of us apply less than half the required amount. For a lotion, six teaspoons is needed for an averagesized adult. The two finger-rule – a blob the length and width of two straight fingers – is right for face and neck.
When to top it up Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin 20 minutes before being in the sun. Reapply every couple of hours and after swimming, exercise, sweating and towelling, even if it says it is water resistant.
Keeping costs low Lotion is often cheapest, while sprays and mists are more expensive. Facial SPFs can cost slightly more, but any protection is better than nothing, and most people can use a body sunscreen on the face too. Supermarket own brands are often the cheapest.
Top picks for under £5
Best for… LOTION Morrisons Sun Lotion SPF30, £4, is broad spectrum and packed with moisturising ingredients to keep the skin comfortable.