Lots of people find they don’t get on with sunscreen at all: causing rashes, pimples or just itching and irritation, they ditch it and go it alone – never a good idea. In the EU, we have sunscreen guidelines that state that SPF should provide broad-spectrum UV protection (i.e. protect against UVA and UVB rays) and that UVA protection must be at least a ratio of 1:3 of that of UVB – though some brands include a higher ratio.
In order for a company to ensure that they are hitting the right spots, sunscreens generally tend to be a mix of physical/mineral and chemical ingredients. What this means in laywoman’s terms is that physical sunscreens are just that – they form a barrier that reflects the sun’s rays (and this is why foundation is also somewhat effective as a sunscreen, because it’s literally covering your skin) – and chemical sunscreen ingredients do things like absorb the UV radiation. That’s your source of irritation right there, and it’s usually the reaction of the chemical agents as they go to work on delicate skin that causes irritation.
So, what to do? If you recognise the symptoms above, look for a physical-only sunblock which contains ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both very effective physical blockers. New technology has managed to do away with the old Casper the friendly ghost-effect of old that was the bane of this sort of SPF, and mineral sunscreens these days tend to be pretty good thanks to micronized particles and better emulsifiers.
New from the Liz Earle stable this summer is Mineral Sun Cream SPF20, from €7.50 for a 30ml tube. It’s got the all-important physical attributes which protect against both types of UV ray as well as lots of lovely Liz-alike ingredients like green tea, pomegranate and shea butter. Suitable for use on face and body, sensitive types will find this a boon, and it’ll also be a good bet for kids.