Last week I was scheduled to do my usual slot on telly to talk all things SPF before the real ‘heat’ hit us hard. Unfortunately on the same day, we got a new Prime Minister so we were bumped off. So here is ‘kind of’ what we were going to talk about…

SPF Basics:

  • Most people do not apply enough SPF. This is not a time to tread lightly. Cover all your nooks and crannies. If you have young boys, ensure you cover the base of their spine, just above their bottom. It burns the quickest. Remember ears, sides of face, and the back of their necks. Young girls should ideally be in swimsuits, not bikinis. They cover more, and there is less area to apply SPF to. Don’t go for cute. Go for covered. Keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight full stop.
  • With kids, I apply a cream SPF all over them before we go out in the sun, then top up with multi-directional sprays as they’re running away from me.
  • If you come back from a 2-week holiday with leftover SPF, you probably didn’t use enough.
  • The average 200ml bottle of body SPF contains around 6 full body applications for the average body size. (I’m not talking face.) If you’re taller/larger you’ll need more. Do the math:
    If I go on a two-week holiday with my family, that’s 6 full size people (5 of us are nearly or well over 6 feet tall), one bottle lasts around 2 days per person (being applied at least 3 x day), that’s 7 bottles per person, or 42 bottles per 2 week vacation. If you’re using that much, you’re covered. If you grab two bottles of SPF15 in Duty Free, you’re fooling yourself. When four of us went to Florida a couple of years ago, I genuinely took over 20 bottles of SPF. About 4/5 face, one for each, and the rest were body. We were swimming a lot, if you’re just walking around or not outdoors that much, obviously this would be overkill.
  • Reapply every two hours (unless you’re sitting in an office, I’m talking about people working outdoors or on holiday etc).
  • When using differing levels of SPF, they do not accumulate. The highest number that you use is the limit you will reach.
  • Use a separate SPF after your moisturiser. SPF included in a moisturiser or a tinted moisturiser/foundation will not give you sufficient coverage and you will not use enough to cover, especially in a foundation. Ears/décolleté/back of neck (crucial if you are a bun or ponytail-wearing addict).
  • Brands are not allowed to use the term ‘waterproof’ anymore. Buyer beware.
  • Always buy fresh every year. SPF in the bottle degrades in the sun and heat, don’t carry it over to your next break. Bin it, buy fresh.
  • Use SPF30 as your minimum, SPF50 is preferable. Although it’s true that SPF50 gives you less than 2% more UV blockage, it builds up and over time the extra UV transmitted will contribute to the extra risk of skin cancers and premature ageing. SPF50 also gives a higher level of protection against UVA rays, so think about your skin in terms of preventing ageing, not just cancers.
  • Mineral/physical sunscreens are more likely to leave a white/grey cast on a black skin. Choose ‘chemical’ or test them if you can. The higher the SPF, the more chance of it showing on your skin. This is also dependent on formula, it’s not a one-size fits all recipe.
  • Don’t be completely obsessed with the five star/round UVA symbol. It is not required in Australia and they are generally assumed to make the best sunscreens in the world. The words ‘Broad Spectrum’ are key. (Yes I am predominantly saying this for my Aussie mates.)
  • Shake the bejesus of any spray SPF before applying. Remember this problem?: Honest Beauty SPF30
  • If in doubt, buy SPF aimed at kids, from doctor/dermatologist brands. They are nearly always fragrance-free and super high SPF.

I picked the sunscreens shown for numerous reasons, price and accessibility being two of the main considerations.


Boots Soltan 50+ Spray – £4.50 Boots/Soltan
Broad Spectrum
Chemical SPF
Easy to use, high UVA protection
Suitable for all skins

Bondi Sands SPF50+ Coconut Beach – currently £4.49 in Boots
Chemical SPF, no UVA symbol, but I trust it – the ingredients are hardcore
Broad Spectrum
Cruelty Free
Shake well
Suitable for all
Coincidentally smells of coconut and therefore obviously I am obsessed

Ambre Solaire Kids Sensitive Advanced SPF50 – currently £3.00 for a travel size in Boots (but you’d need abut 20 of them LOL)
Chemical SPF
Broad Spectrum
Good thick cream, easy to rub in, but not too runny that it goes everywhere the you apply
Fragrance free
Great as a first application, to be topped up with almost constant spraying

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Multi-position Spray SPF50+ – £14.99 Superdrug
Chemical SPF
Broad Spectrum
Fragrance free
Great to spray from all angles

Glossier Invisible Shield SPF30 – £20.00 from Glossier
Chemical SPF
Broad Spectrum
Face SPF
Cruelty Free
Particularly good for black skins. No residue.

MooGoo Natural Sunscreen SPF30 – £15.00 from MooGoo
Physical sunscreen – zinc oxide
Broad Spectrum
Cruelty Free
Suitable for all ages and all skin types

Vichy Ideal Soleil SPF30 – £19.00 from Vichy
The lightest formula, this sprays on beautifully
Broad Spectrum

Marks and Spencer Sun Smart SPF30 Sun Lotion – £3.00 for travel size M&S
Broad Spectrum
Fragrance Free
Cruelty Free
M&S are a great choice for value for money and parents that need to buy a lot of product.


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