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How to Avoid Sunburn

A redness free summer, and not thanks to cloud

How to Avoid Sunburn

Q: Even though I wear a sublock with an SPF 30, I still get burned to a crisp. I don’t spend much time in the sun but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Should I be spending more money on a fancier product or am I just allergic to sunlight?

Andy, Pinner

Our expert Ahmed Zambarakji answers your questions below:

A: Looking like a crippled Sith Lord is not a strong look. But, perhaps more importantly, figures for malignant melanoma are four times what they were 30 years ago, so it makes sense to invest in a quality sunblock. That doesn’t mean spending a fortune, though.

There are plenty of affordable broad-spectrum sunblocks out there for you to choose from (my personal recommendation for you would be one of the SPF 50s from La Roche Posay’s Anthelios range) but, it doesn’t matter whether you spend a fiver or five hundred quid on a formula - the trick is in the application of said product.

Most people don’t slap on anywhere near enough sunscreen to cope with an entire afternoon spent comatose on a lilo. You need at least 2mg of product per sq cm to get the kind of protection that’s advertised on the bottle (about a sixth of a 200ml bottle, provided you’re not a WWF wrestler or the morbidly obese subject of a Channel 5 documentary). Most apply half – if not less – of the desired amount, which effectively turns a factor 50 into a factor 15.

The next thing to pay attention to this year is when you first apply the product (and how often you reapply). Don’t wait until you’ve found the perfect spot before you gratuitously slather yourself with sunscreen. Sunscreens need time to react with your skin, so cover yourself in the stuff a good half an hour before you even step out of your front door.

You’ll need to top up throughout the day, though, so take the bottle with you. Even the most resilient of sunblocks – including the ones misleadingly labeled ‘waterproof’ – will slip after you’ve been for a quick dip or broken out in the sweats.

Last but not least, avoid using last year’s leftovers. Sunscreens go ‘off’ just like food, so you might as well baste yourself in Flora if you think you’re saving pennies by waiting for that bottle from 2003 to finish.

Find Ahmed at

(Image: Getty)