Consuming Issues: Some sun creams are not worth the slather
Saturday 04 July 2009
Let's face it, whizzing to the airport or a British beach, sun care can be the last thing on our minds. Bottles of lotion are grabbed at the last minute in Boots, if at all.
Research suggests Britons are lazy when it comes to sun care. Perhaps it's because we live in a grey climate, but most of us have no idea how, or when, to apply the protective creams properly.
Even if we are doing it right, we may be unaware of the differences that exist between products, some of which appear to afford less protection than that stated on the label. There is also confusion about Sun Protection Factor (SPF).
All this ignorance is unfortunate because, despite the temporary lull in foreign bookings during the recession, tourists are travelling to ever further-flung, hotter destinations such as Dubai, Mexico and Kenya. And, due to climate change, our summers are also becoming warmer.
Sun-burn can be inconvenient and painful and, in extreme cases, can kill. But the real trouble can start decades later: with skin cancer.
With the national fondness for tanning salons and the rise of jet travel, skin cancer rates are soaring. Incidents of the worst form – malignant melanoma – have quadrupled since the 1970s and 2,600 people die of the disease every year. One third of sufferers are under 50.
Britain has more cases than scorching Australia (thanks to its "slip, slop, slap" campaign – "slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat"), though scorching Oz has more serious malignant melanomas.
As a result, the Government recommends that people buy creams with a Sun protection factor of at least 15.
Despite the advice, a trawl of high street stores will reveal plenty of creams with less protection: for instance, a Nivea SPF 6, a Piz Buin SPF 6, and Soltan SPF 4 (the own-brand sold by Boots, the country's biggest chemist).
Contrary to public belief, SPF does not equate to the number of minutes you can spend in the sun without getting burnt, ie, SPF 15 means 15 minutes of protection.
It is the factor by which you extend your natural protection to UV rays. In other words, an SPF will give you 15 times your natural protection against the sun, which, confusingly, will depend on the kind of skin you have. Fair-skinned people are most susceptible and should take most interest in what they buy.
Recent surveys have indicated that, when it comes to sun creams, you get what you pay for. In its test of factor 15 creams this year, consumer group Which? found Nivea and Hawaiian Tropic had more protection than stated.
By contrast, Malibu, Tesco, Wilko and Marks & Spencer creams had less protection (though they all insisted their tests proved the creams worked).
Last year Which? also found Malibu, Tesco and Marks & Spencer creams failed to hit the advertised factory 15. Which? does acknowledge though that sun cream tests are to some degree subjective, depending on analysis of burned patches of skin.
Nonetheless – with the notable exception of Asda's Sun System creams ('best buys' both years) – the trend is that more expensive brands outperform own-brands.
How much should you put on? Cancer Research UK says you should apply cream every two hours you are out in the sun and after swimming. Sun cream appears to be most effective if applied about 20 minutes before you go out.
People often underestimate how much cream to use. In a test last year, Which? asked four bathers at London Fields lido to apply lotion.
Compared with the correct amount of cream they should have slapped on to stop them burning, the swimmers applied 10 per cent, 25 per cent, 30 per cent and 50 per cent of the correct amount. One said: "I don't really know how much to put on." Another – the one who put on only one-tenth – said: "To be honest, I'm a bit slack with it." Another said she often got burnt.
Following a few simple rules can help avoid that. Limit exposure to the sun between 11am and 3pm. And buy branded sun lotions with an SPF 15 and above and apply them regularly throughout the day.
Heroes & Villians
Inventor of vacuum cleaners, Sir James Dyso has once again proved that consumer gadgets can be practical and attractive with the launch of his new handheld DC31 machine. Though, at £130 a time, it is quite expensive.
Easyjet, Monarch, Jet2 and AirBerlin are adding up to £10 to the cost of a flight and flouting EU laws by automatically adding travel insurance during the booking process, according to Which? Holiday. The EU says airlines cannot automatically add extras such as insurance at the time of booking.
Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal
Donald MacInnes: My wasted hours in the retail deserts of Dixons-Carphone
Pension firms must ask consumers more questions, says City Watchdog
Money Insider: Smart alternatives to the pensioner bond
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
iJobs Money & Business
£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...
Day In a Page
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village