Health & Lifestyle

From sensitive skin to eczema, rosacea and acne: what is the best SPF to use for YOUR skin problem?

As we get into the full swing of things this summer, we want to look and feel our best.

Sunscreen is obviously a big part of that, preventing burning on the sunny days, and SPF can also help put off wrinkles, dullness in your skin tone, and, most importantly, guard against skin cancer.

But skincare problems can derail any positivity you might be feeling ahead of your big hot weather plans, and unfortunately, your efforts to protect your skin with sunscreen could be a hinderance as much as a help.

Certain creams could aggravate problems like acne, eczema, or sensitive skin.

So choosing the right SPF for you can be tricky, here, Dr Maham Khan, a consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic in London, picks her best buys.

We all want to be out in the sun over summer, but if our skin is not at its best we might be more inclined to stay away

We all want to be out in the sun over summer, but if our skin is not at its best we might be more inclined to stay away

Certain SPF creams could aggravate problems like acne, eczema, or sensitive skin

Certain SPF creams could aggravate problems like acne, eczema, or sensitive skin

Choosing the right SPF can be difficult, so here are some recommendations based on your skin

Choosing the right SPF can be difficult, so here are some recommendations based on your skin 

Acne

TOP CHOICE : Skinceuticals Oil Shield UV Defence Sunscreen SPF50, £42.75 for 30ml, dermacaredirect.co.uk 

Acne is triggered by an over-production of sebum (oil) that can block the pores, trapping bacteria and leading to inflammation and spots. Some sun creams contain an oil that is comedogenic — it clogs the pores. 

This can be especially problematic with waterproof SPF creams, or those which include ingredients which block sweat from escaping your pores like cocoa butter, beeswax, and coconut oil. 

This lotion is oil-free and noncomedogenic — and provides a high SPF. It also contains silica silicate, a mineral that absorbs sebum on the surface of skin. 

Skinceuticals Oil Shield UV Defence Sunscreen SPF50 (pictured), £42.75 for 30ml, dermacaredirect.co.uk

Skinceuticals Oil Shield UV Defence Sunscreen SPF50 (pictured), £42.75 for 30ml, dermacaredirect.co.uk

Eczema 

TOP CHOICE : La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMUNE 400 SPF50, £19.90 for 50ml, boots.com 

Eczema affects around one in 12 adults, causing itchy and inflamed skin. Some find sunlight or sunscreens containing fragrance make it worse. 

This is because they often cause allergic reactions, so look for products that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. 

It might be worth consulting with an allergist and taking a blood test if you suspect you might be someone who suffers when using creams containing fragrance to confirm your suspicions.

As well as high sun protection, this contains thermal spring water which is rich in natural minerals; studies by the maker suggest this helps soothe itchy, inflamed skin. 

What does SPF mean and why is it important? 

A cream’s SPF rating indicates the number by which you can multiply your skin’s natural resistance to going red in the sun.

So if, without any protection, you’d go red after ten minutes, applying an SPF30 means you won’t go red for 300 minutes.

If without protection you go red after 20 minutes, using SPF30 means you won’t go red for 600 minutes.

But that only stands if you reapply it every two hours or after getting wet, and apply the correct amount.

And in preventing burns, you will protect yourself from dry skin, wrinkles, and most crucially, skin cancer – which there are over 100,000 new cases of every year in Britain.

Rosacea 

TOP CHOICE: Altruist AntiRedness & Pigmentation SPF50, £11.50 for 30ml, altruistsun.com 

This inflammatory skin condition causes red flushing on the face and can be triggered and exacerbated by UV light from the sun. 

Other symptoms are dry skin, and sore eyelids. 

As well as SPF50, this cream contains liquorice root, calendula and horse chestnut which research suggests can have an anti-inflammatory action on irritated skin. 

It’s also tinted green which has a ‘colour correcting’ effect to help conceal redness. 

Exposed scalp 

TOP CHOICE: Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF50, £37.39 for 6g, facethefuture.co.uk 

The scalp accounts for 20 per cent of skin cancer cases, so applying SPF there is extremely important.

This is particularly a problem for those with thinning hair or bald patches. 

This powder is a mineral sunscreen; i.e. a physical sunblock that deflects the sun’s rays (many creams provide a chemical sunblock, absorbing light and releasing it as heat from the skin). 

Applied with the brush, it won’t weigh down hair or leave a residue. 

Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF50 (pictured), £37.39 for 6g, facethefuture.co.uk

Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF50 (pictured), £37.39 for 6g, facethefuture.co.uk

Sensitised skin 

TOP CHOICE: Eucerin Actinic Control SPF 100, £25 for 80ml, boots.com 

Even if you are over a previous skin problem, the impact of your treatment could mean that youn need to adjust your SPF choice accordingly.

Medications such as radiotherapy and Roaccutane (for acne) damage the skin’s protective barrier, leaving it sensitive and more vulnerable to sunburn. 

Anyone on these treatments (and those with a history of skin cancer) need extra high SPF. 

This lightweight cream offers SPF100, blocking out 99 per cent of UV rays 

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