UVB is “the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn, [and] tends to damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers.” While UVA rays are more prevalent, UVB rays are more intense – ultimately, both are damaging. So make sure any sunscreen you buy works for both (not all do).
Do I need to shell out on an expensive option?
According to Dr Perry, the good news is you don’t, unless your skin is sensitive to certain ingredients. “Start at the lower end of the spectrum – a Boots or chemist range is more than sufficient. The most important thing is liberal application, and if it’s too expensive, you might worry about putting too much on.”
Are there certain ingredients I should be wary of?
According to a recent article in the New York Times there is concern over certain ingredients, “but you should be more worried about skin cancer.” One of the chief concerns, established in a study in JAMA earlier this year, is that some chemicals found in sun creams may be absorbed into the blood (though evidence hasn’t been provided that these chemicals, like oxybenzone, are harmful).
There is a fear, however, that some chemicals used may be harmful for marine life, and much of the sun block we use ends up in the sea. “It’s one of those things you have to weigh up, protecting your skin versus being potentially environmentally unfriendly.” Dr Perry admits.