A Guide to Choosing the Right SPF

Clarins SPF 50 Sun Wrinkle Control Cream for Face | Piz Buin SPF 30 Lip Balm | Piz Buin SPF 30 Allergy Sun Cream | Garnier Ambre Solaire Sensitive Advanced SPF 50 Sun Cream

When it comes to SPF, it can be a minefield. Which factor to choose, is higher really better? If I use SPF 50 will it stop me from tanning? Do I really need a separate cream for my face and what about sensitive skin? Now I've always been pretty good with SPF but after my recent holiday to the Dominican Republic, I've stepped up the sun protection knowledge big time. So as it's that time of year I wanted to do a dedicated sun care post to hopefully help some of you guys who are jetting off to warmer climes this summer.
The High Factor Myth

For those of us that crave that beautiful, bronzed skin there's a common misconception that wearing a high factor SPF will prevent/delay this; but the fact is, this is just not true. I kind of thought this myself but after the tan I got from that Caribbean sun I can testify that wearing Factor 50 definitely did NOT hinder my tanning, infact only wearing SPF 30 with sun as intense as that is asking for trouble. Both Grace (who is part Caribbean) and myself (who never usually burns) burnt on the first day, I was wearingmy Piz Buin SPF 30, Grace opted for SPF 6...come the evening both of us were sporting some rather unattractive red raw skin. After this I slathered on the Garnier Ambre Solaire SPF50 for the rest of the holiday and the tan I got was intense, golden and still hanging around a month later.

Now there are SPFs available higher than 50, I saw ones as high as 100 so I thought I would give Factor 80 a go...honestly the sun in the DR is something else, however after reading up on this there is no need to go higher than 50. This is a really good piece to read about why you don't need to go higher than SPF50 - essentially SPFs higher than 50 don't have all the UVA/UVB preventing ingredients that we need so best to stick between SPF 30-50.

Always use a separate SPF for Face and Chest

It's really important to remember that the skin on your face and chest is a lot thinner than the rest of your body. I've always treated the skin on my chest as if it were the skin on my face as it responds really well to my facial skincare regime and looks so much healthier than when I neglect it. So anything I put on my face I always drag down onto my chest. I failed to do this on holiday and consequently burnt my chest. My face however, absolutely fine thanks to the Clarins SPF50 Sun Wrinkle Control Cream for Face. I usually opt for the Elizabeth Arden SPF 50 for Face but that was sold out meaning I gave Clarins a go and I'm so happy I did - I absolutely love this stuff and will never leave the country without it. In fact, it's so good I'm almost tempted to try the Clarins SPF 50 for body on my next trip to Ibiza. Suncare is an investment and after having burnt in the DR I'm more convinced than ever that the better quality creams are so worth the money, also never go below SPF 50 on your face, especially of you wan age like Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her.

Don't forget your Lips, Ears and Scalp

I burnt all of these to some extent on holiday, not badly but my scalp did go very crusty (TMI). I always burn my scalp a bit on holiday but this was something else, like actual scabs. You can get hairspray SPFs but they don't really work so I'd always suggest getting a cute hat or head scarf situation. You're especially vulnerable in the pool so if you have too, dab some SPF down your parting especially if your hair is tied back. I found this SPF lip balm in Boots but they also have this one which could be better on John Lewis by Ultrasun and thought it was pretty good as my lip line did go darker but my actual lips felt fine, in fact I quite liked it; my own natural MAC lip liner ha! I tended to wipe this just over the lip line as well just to make sure, I also dabbed some of my Clarins SPF on top of my ears as they're so easy to forget but so vulnerable to sunburn.

Pre Holiday Prep for Sun Sensitive Skin

About 7 years ago on one of my first girly holidays, I realised I got prickly heat. If you've never had this it's basically skin irritation from where sweat, suncream, sea salt and pool water layers over each other and irritates the skin resulting in a rash of tiny bumps. It can go quite red and is bloody uncomfortable, at some points I've felt like my skin is burning and literally cannot put on anymore suncream without feeling so uncomfortable and itchy. One of my friends imparted the best piece of advice to remedy this which I've made sure I do every time I go away and my prickly heat is so much better and on some occasions, I've not had any at all. So, a week before you jet off and then everyday on the holiday take antihistamines, then opt for an allergy specific suncream, I have used the Piz Buin Allergy suncream and the Garnier Ambre Solaire Sensitive Advanced Suncream and both work really well. I'd advise on going for the Garnier one purely because the Piz Buin only goes up to SPF 30, can be hard to get hold of and I've not heard great things about the Piz Buin protection.

I have dark skin so don't need to use SPF

This is a huge misconception, and I'm always trying to convince the boyfriend, whose parents are Jamaican, that he still needs to use SPF, particularly when we go away. Dark skins do have a higher natural SPF (melanin) than fair skins however this doesn't mean they aren't affected by ageing and sun damage. SPF 30 is a good one to go for but try not to go below SPF 15. Things like skin cancer are harder to detect in darker skin tones so it's important to be vigilant as they can often be in advanced stages when discovered.

Have you got any SPF tips? And has this post helped you? Wherever you're going away to make sure you look after your skin and happy tanning!