Protecting Your Skin From The Summer Sun

Posted on: 25 June 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

A sizzling summer is predicted, so stock up on SPF now according to Sarah Vine.

Most uncharacteristically, the Met Office’s predictions for a “barbecue summer” appear to have some foundation in fact.

Of course, there’s always Wimbledon and Glastonbury to go (deliciously tempting targets for the rain), but in the meantime it looks like we might be in for some half-decent weather.

Those heading for exposure, be it on a beach, at a festival or on Centre Court, should bear in mind that, unreliable as our British sun may be, it still packs a punch when it comes to UV rays. Sunkissed is all very well; sunburned is a disaster, both from an aesthetic point of view and for long-term health.

When it comes to skin ageing, sun too is the main culprit. I was thinking this recently, as I sat on a beach beneath a large sunhat and observed a gaggle of young girls stripping off to their bikini bottoms and covering each other in baby oil. Top entertainment for a nearby group of teenage boys; not so much fun in 20 years’ time, when sunblushed turns to sundried.

On this occasion, with small children in tow, I had equipped myself with Vichy’s Capital Soleil new Factor 30 High Protection spray (£14.50; 0800 1696193). My friend, on the other hand, had opted for Riemann P20 (£23.95), a Danish brand that you apply just once and which apparently lasts ten hours.

I was sure that the Vichy would be a hit and the P20 a gimmick; but I was wrong. The P20 just went on and on, whereas the Vichy, while saintly in terms of being paraben-free, required constant re-application, earning me the title of Most Annoying Mum Ever.

When it launched 30 years ago, you could only find P20 abroad or in duty-free shops; this year, Boots is selling it. The original needed to be applied an hour and a half before sun exposure; last year, Riemann updated the formula so it needs to go on only 15 minutes beforehand.

It absorbs 95 per cent of UVB rays and is classified by the European Cosmetics Association as “very water resistant”, which is the highest rating available. It’s well-deserved: our lot were in and out of the water all day long, and not one of them burned.

Having invested in the Vichy, I nevertheless persevered with it myself, and ended up with a light and satisfyingly even tan. This made a good base for Clinique’s Self Sun Body Tinted Lotion (£14.68;

There’s something about putting fake tan on lily white skin that always seems to end in streaky disaster. Apply it over a light suntan, however, and the effect is much more natural. The Clinique lotion is a very gentle formula, hardly discernible at all; it’s also tinted so you can monitor application, and shot through with a tiny bit of shimmer to make your skin glow. Highly recommended – whatever the weatherman says.

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