Okay, so finding the best sun protection might sound like a breeze when planning a holiday. That being said, there’s a shed load of times when certain SPF, sunblock or hats just won’t cut the mustard. That’s why I wanted to share some of the best sun protection tips that I’ve followed since travelling.
First off, lets clear things up, it doesn’t matter what shade or tone of skin you have, sun protection should be always something you think about. This is especially true if you’re jetting off on sunny holiday.
Now, for the longest time, I used to just slap on a load of cream and hope for the best when I travelled. Then, never gave sun protection a thought after the first-morning routine. As you can imagine, this led to many times in which I would be walking back from the pool like John Wayne. Burned legs, shoulders and arms are not fun.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some really easy ways in which you can protect yourself from those harmful rays. After all, no one ever looks good as red as a lobster!
The best sun protection tips for your Holiday
Take a look, below, at some of my favourite and best sun protection tips for your next trip.
1.) Find a sunscreen that isn’t greasy
Honestly, this is the thing that has, sometimes, put me off applying sun protection whilst on holiday. Especially if I’m hiking, exploring a city like Rome… heck, anything but a beach! I used to look at photos of myself whilst using greasy sunblock and I looked like I’d been varnished!
For me, using a suncream like La Roche Posay is best, not only because it gives you SPF protection of 50+ but also as it has a matte effect spray. For instance, when travelling and exploring, I hate looking like a big grease ball so their mattifying facial spray is amazing to combat this.
Plus, this also helps as it’s not a greasy mess that drips into your eyes (and contact lenses) later on. By finding sun protection that suits your needs, you’re more likely to apply it and keep safer in the sun.
2.) Wear sun protection when it’s cloudy
Even when it’s cloudy, that sun can still do lots of damage to your delicate skin. Don’t let those fluffy clouds fool you, applying sunscreen during cloudy weather is one of the best sun protection tips to protect you on your next trip.
Now, it’s a totally common mistake that some people make (me included) and pretty easily done. After all, the sun isn’t ‘out’ and you don’t feel hot.
For me, this is a classic time when I’ve been burned and it’s always come as a surprise. You see, you don’t need to be in direct, glaring, sunshine for those UVA and UVB to damage and hurt your skin. Make sure to always apply, especially when it’s cloudy as this is when sunburn can creep up on you.
3.) Cold places can be worse than hot ones
Look, travelling to some destinations invariably mean you’ll be exposed to lots more of that harmful UVA and UVB rays. For instance, without jumping into a whole geography class, when you travel to ski destinations there are some pretty valuable and best sun protection tips that you should definitely adhere too.
In snowy destinations, you have something called the Albedo Effect that, to put it simply, bounces all the sun rays off the snow and straight up onto you. If you’ve ever been skiing, you might be wondering how you got sunburned under your chin? This is how.
Pack yourself some high factor SPF and apply every few hours.
4.) Stay out of the direct sun
So, when the sun is highest in the sky, typically around 10 am until around 2 pm (sometimes 4 pm), the sun rays are more intense. This is because they are directly bearing down on you from above. Before 10 am and in the later afternoon, the sun becomes more angled across the horizon. This all means that the strength of the sun is felt less by you and your skin.
Though, this isn’t an excuse not to slap on that sunscreen. Cover up with SPF as much as possible.
5.) Clothing is key
Look, this might sound obvious but a good hat, shades and long sleeves help a huge deal! For me, one of the investments and best sun protection tips is to buy a UV protective water t-shirt that’s amazing when you’re in the sea or pool.
Honestly, grabbing one of these has saved me having a burned back when snorkelling and is so helpful when you’re around the coral reef. This is especially important if you can’t grab any coral-reef friendly sunscreen that can damage the corals themselves.
6.) Sunblock isn’t just about cream
There’s a whole heap of travel toiletries that aren’t just about sun cream (in the traditional sense). For instance, SPF protecting lip balm, SPF makeup (if you wear it) and SPF hair products all help in limiting the amount of damage that those harmful UVA and UVB rays can do.
I always take more than I need. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
7.) Always choose an SPF of 30 or higher
For me, one of the best sun protection tips is just going as high as possible with SPF.
Also, there’s just no point in going for a lower SPF protection if you still get burned and I really think everyone should wear at least a 30+ SPF. This is why I wear an SPF of 50 and try to keep my skin as covered as possible.
Obviously, in practice, this can be tough when it’s really hot but always choose a high SPF as you want the best protection from skin cancers as possible. This is especially true if you have freckles, moles, or tend to go bright red in the sun.
8.) Keep an eye on expiration dates
Just like medication you buy, sunscreen can lose its potency over time. This is why they have best before dates on them. Typically, once opened, make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle and don’t get caught out by being burned.
9.) A base tan can be bad
The idea of a base tan is actually quite bad, and definitely not one of the best sun protection tips you should ever follow. This is mainly because it gives you a false sense of protection when you’re in the sun.
You might hear some people say that they’re heading to tanning salons and sunbeds to get a base tan before they travel. You might have heard some people say it helps them not get burned, thus making it healthier when travelling?
Don’t believe this.
Yes, getting burned by the sun is very bad and increases your risk of skin cancer but there is no such thing as a healthy tan. Our bodies do need sunlight to produce certain vitamins in the body (Vitamin D, for example) but this can be achieved without your skin becoming a markedly different shade. Vitamin D supplements (which I take), can help with this.
To put it simply, no tan is good for you. For your skin to change colour, your body is reacting to UVA and UVB damage and is trying to combat this the only way it can. By cooling the skin down, or making your skin darker.
A tan, in fact, is when UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin and can, in some cases, change the DNA in your cells. This is the process that can lead to skin cancer in certain people.
It’s always best to stay healthy in the sun. If in doubt, check expert advice from the NHS website or your doctor.
10.) Packing light isn’t an excuse
Look, if you’re packing hand luggage only or very light, it’s still no excuse to not have sun protection with you. We’re all guilty of this at times, especially when we’re trying to cram a shed load of different toiletries into one of those tiny plastic bags at the airport.
That being said, there are easy ways to combat this. Go for smaller bottles of your favourite toiletries. I go for a small 30ml bottle of Armani Acqua Di Gio (rather than the bigger one), I also pack a roll on deodorant to save more space.
This all means I’ve saved that little bit of room for a smaller bottle of sun protection that will, in truth, help to protect me.