The first thing to remember is that sunscreen is just that – a screening agent to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. It’s not a magic potion that will allow you to stay in the sun all day when you usually burn after 15 minutes.
Choose your protection factor well. These days, it’s recommended that you don’t use less than Factor 15 in any circumstances, and I’d go along with that. High factor sunscreen will not prevent you from tanning, but it will stop you from burning. Depending on the strength of the sun and whether you’re very pale or slightly tanned, you should use at least Factor 25 to start with. I always have 3 different actors on the go; Factor 40 for my face, because I don’t want to end up with a face like a prune; Factor 15 for my arms, legs and chest, because they’ve already got quite a lot of colour; and Factor 30 for my midsection and the tops of my thighs when I first bare them to the elements.
Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before venturing out, to give your skin time to absorb it. If you’re not very good at getting a good all-over covering and you often find you have red bits where you’ve missed, why not go for a children’s coloured sun cream, or an adult’s cream which stays white on the skin? Don’t use it on your face, though, or you could end up looking like Jason from the ‘Hallowe’en’ films!
If you don’t have a partner to coat the bits you can’t reach, a spray may be best for you. Choose a water resistant sunscreen. Even if you don’t swim, you’ll probably sweat, which will reduce the effectiveness of your sunscreen. Reapply at least every hour, and as soon as you’ve dried off after swimming. If your skin starts to feel hot, cover up with a loose cotton top, don’t just slap on more sunscreen. Your body is telling you it’s had enough sun for now, so listen to it. Where the sun is concerned, you can have too much of a good thing!
At the end of your sunbathing session, shower to remove residual sunscreen. As soon as you’re dry and while your skin is still warm, apply aftersun moisturiser generously. That way, you replace the moisture the sun has taken out of your body. In addition, your tan will last longer and there’s less likelihood of peeling.
With the right sunscreen, carefully and correctly applied, the sun can be your friend rather than a dangerous enemy. Get creamed up and go for that glow!