Skin cancer conscious Brits reach for high factor sun cream

Added 03/08/2010

Sun lotion

Brits are finally heeding the warnings about skin cancer by opting for high factor sun cream for their summer holidays. Sun cream below factor 10 is slowly disappearing from UK shelves thanks to years of campaigning by doctors and charities.

There was a time when many Brits used factor 8 or even 4 when they were out in the sun, which offered little protection against harmful UV rays. Some sun lovers even smothered themselves in tanning oil that actually made them burn, increasing their risk of developing skin cancer. But people’s attitude to sun safety has finally begun to change.

Tesco has experienced a rapid drop in the sales of low factor sun cream over the last three years, and all of their own brand sun cream is now factor 10 or over. Sales of sun cream below factor 10 is now at 30%, when just three years ago, it made up 55% of sales.

Sun cream that is designed for children has been selling particularly well — an encouraging sign the parents are looking after their children properly in the sun. Some parents even use children’s sun cream on themselves because of the higher SPF.

The SPF in a sun cream indicates the amount of time you can stay out in the sun after it has been applied. So if you apply a sun cream that is SPF30, then you can stay out in the sun for 30 times longer.

But using sun cream doesn’t mean that you can stay in the sun for hours on end. It’s best to avoid the sun altogether during the hottest part of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm.

The Cancer Research UK SunSmart campaign advises that everyone should use a sun cream that is SPF15 or above. People with fair skin, lots of moles, red hair or a history of sunburn should take extra care in the sun.

If you are exposed to the sun, look out for early signs of skin cancer. Know your skin, and check for any changes. The most obvious sign of skin cancer is the presence of a mole that is asymmetrical, has a fuzzy border, is uneven in colour or has a diameter of over 6mm. If you notice any changes in your skin, visit your doctor immediately.

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