The FDA (USA) is making sunscreen brands change their labelling this December. SPF50 will be the SPF “cap” because the FDA (news here) says it doesn’t have enough data to prove that anything higher is significantly more protective. And the word “sunblock”  will disappear (it’s more of a US term really, who’d want to block the UK sun, that rare summer 2012 phenomenon?) There’s more info about which SPFs screen out what percentage of rays in The Simple Guide to SPFs on

So in anticipation of a) a holiday abroad and/or b) a better British summer in the second half, here are six sunscreens, all tried and tested (except one) in sun-soaked hotspots.

SPF50  NEW LOVEA ORGANIC DAILY FACE CREAM/SUNSCREEN Natural brand Lovea’s SPF50 for the face (hurrah, a high SPF factor for those who need one!) is more than an organic sunscreen for the face, it has Argan Oil to moisturise and protect against ageing, and Tahitian Monoi leaf extract, so it smells good. High UVA/B protection and a surprisingly good non-white texture.  £15.99/50ml at (Watch this space – Balance Me and REN have just launched a daily SPF18 and SPF15 respectively, and more brands will follow).

SPF42  VIVE SANA ORGANIC SOLAR TO POLAR BABY SPF42.  Not yet tested but it’s new to Two thumbs up (“dummies?”) for this clean-sounding formula for mini sun people.  There’s no water in it (which can breed bacteria) and it’s good to see a higher SPF made specifically for very young skin. £25/66ml  Also an SPF40 for adults. Has anyone tried this brand?

SPF30 CAUDALIE SOLEIL DIVIN FOR THE FACE Fantastic, non-sticky, no-white-at-all texture, feels exceptionally comfortable on the face £18.90/40ml at

SPF30 NEALS YARD WILD ROSE DAILY MOISTURE FOR THE FACE Humid? No problem. This mattifying, non-shiny facial moisturiser plus SPF30 is so different – it almost “dries” once on skin. If you suffer in humidity (and don’t have dry skin) this will revolutionize your facial sunscreen care. Full of good things as you’d expect from NYR. Details here:

SPF25 GREEN PEOPLE SCENT-FREE (BODY) Contains aloe vera, green tea and beeswax. This is great if you want a neutral-smelling sunscreen and have sensitive skin £9.95/40ml. SPF25 is the highest in the range, though. Time for a new launch soon?

SPF20  VICHY CAPITAL SOLEIL SUNCARE OIL The most “glamorous” of all the sunscreens we tested, and the perfect accompaniment to a bikini and sunlounger for skins that don’t burn easily, this orange coloured oil gives skin a gorgeous glow.  If you hate that zinc/titanium oxide bluey-white residue, and aren’t committed to organic formulas,  this ticks a lot of boxes. And it’s on sale at Escentual at the moment.

Worth remembering:

  • Avoid the strong sun between 11am and 3pm (OK, pan south towards the Med, not likely to be happening in the UK this week)
  • We need Vitamin D, best way to get that is to go out into the sun, with as many body parts exposed as possible (!) for 20 minutes.  After that, it’s time for the SPF.
  • We are chronic under-applyers of sunscreen, so don’t forget to apply it every couple of hours and after swimming, and if you play the “sun-and-shade” game wisely, you’ll be back from that Ibiza bay bronzed and with barely a strap mark.
  • The horrible truth is that skin cancer rates are escalating, even in places like Yorkshire (and on parts of the body never exposed to the sun – therein lies a mystery waiting to be solved, linked to DNA, no?). The least we can do is play it safe, based on what we (scientists and dermatologists) know.
  • UVA = A for ageing rays, UVB = B for burning rays.
  • Always look for “broad spectrum” on the label – it’s key.

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