The Oracle

Your top 5 sun protection questions

Our expert guide to sun protection

We asked top skincare expert Abigail James to answer your burning questions about sun protection, SPFs and more. Read on as she separates the facts from the fiction, then gives you her pick of the best sun care products to buy this summer at The Oracle today.

1 number


I have rosacea – what sunscreen is best for my face? Preferably something to wear under makeup that’s not too greasy. The skin on our face is different to that on our body. We often get spots, dryness, open pores and suffer from sensitivity, so we want formulas that are going to support this. Protecting from photo ageing is also more of a focus on our face than our body. You might select a matte finish SPF if you have oilier skin, and a more hydrating formula if you are prone to dryness and ageing. I much prefer a mineral SPF than a chemical one for the face, as there is less risk of a skin reaction – perfect for all skins, including sensitive and rosacea.

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Our pick: Ultra Light Daily UV Defence mineral sunscreen SPF 50 50ml, £35, Kiehl’s

2 number


I hardly ever burn. How do I know what SPF I should be using? Choosing a sun protection which best suits your skin is key, as we are all totally unique with different skin types and tones. If you barely ever burn I would still be using an SPF but a lower factor such as SPF 15. You also might choose a transparent or oil formula. If you have a fairer complexion, I would suggest SPF 30 plus. As well as protecting from burning, we also want to protect from premature ageing. Plus, you will still get a tan if you wear SPF!

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Our pick: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sun Cream Body Spray SPF30 200ml, £17.50, Boots

3 number


Is there such thing as a base tan? You may not want to look like the palest person around the pool for the first few days, but a pre-holiday base tan is definitely not a way to prevent burning. Repeat: having a tan is not your body’s way of protecting against sunburn. Try this instead: apply a fake tan before travelling away on your hols, then use an SPF with an added tint to cheat your glow when you arrive. Remember to keep on top of the SPF throughout your holiday. No one wants to be the lobster around the pool!

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Our pick: Avene Tinted Mineral Fluid SPF50+ 40ml, £17.50, Boots

4 number


What’s the difference between UVA & UVB? UVA (ultra violet A) long rays have the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin. They have the highest impact on tanning, with huge ageing effects: increasing photo ageing, wrinkles and pigmentation. UVB (ultra violet B) short-wave rays are more responsible for burning, and play a key role in the development of skin cancers. Both have a negative impact and will damage our natural DNA, increasing our chance of skin cancer. The best option is to go for a ‘broad spectrum’ product that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Most sun care products will show a star rating on the packaging. This indicates the strength of the SPF protection factor. A UVA rating of one star is low whereas a five-star rating gives the highest protection. It’s not totally reliable but it’s a simple guide to help you.

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Our pick: Clarins Sun Care Body Cream High Protection UVB/UVA, £21.50, Debenhams

5 number


Do I still need to reapply my cream after going in the pool even if it says it’s water resistant? Sun creams are not 100% waterproof. Water resistant is a very different claim. You are likely to wipe off the sun cream on your towel, so it’s essential to re-apply after two hours to maintain the full level of SPF and sun safety. It’s always best to apply at least 20 minutes before heading out, no matter which sun care option you choose. When applying, be generous –  and don't forget armpits, soles of feet and ears! Finally, a hat and good-quality sunglasses are your sun protection BFFs.

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Our pick: NIVEA, Protect & Refresh Sun Spray SPF30 200ml, £7.50, Boots