Who doesn’t enjoy a day the beach or a leisurely brunch sitting outside soaking up the sun? Sunshine boosts our mood, provides vitamin D and (as it is pretty much guaranteed here) is generally one of Dubai’s selling points!

On the flip side, that fiery ball in the sky is the cause of 80% of premature ageing, as well as being responsible for most skin cancers.

As British mums, we have been espousing the benefits of using sunscreen for more than a decade. Yet in that time, sunscreen formulations and advice have changed dramatically. It can confound even the most seasoned skincare expert, let alone a busy mum with little time to research the topic. So let’s cut through some of the confusion and clarify things with this quick sun smart guide.

Know what you’re dealing with

Before deciding which sunscreen will work for you, it helps to brush up on why the sun is dangerous. The sun emits three types of rays, UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVC is mostly filtered by the earth’s atmosphere and therefore doesn’t harm us.

UVB causes delayed tanning, burning, skin ageing and cancer.

UVA accounts for approximately 95 per cent of the UV radiation that reaches us. (Take note if you drive to work or do the school run without covering up, it can even penetrate glass!)

We’ve known for a while that UVA causes skin ageing but it’s only in the last two decades that we’ve gradually realised it can also cause cancer. To protect against both UVB and UVA rays you need a “broad spectrum” or “multi spectrum” sunscreen.

Mineral Vs chemical

Now let’s talk formulations. There are two types of broad-spectrum sunscreens: chemical and mineral (also known as physical).

Mineral sunscreen

These sit on top of the skin and deflect UV rays, providing immediate protection. They are formulated using natural minerals, (such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) and are therefore good for sensitive skin or children – additionally, these ingredients that don’t pose any environmental threat. They can however, Can be thick and less visually appealing than chemical sunscreen.

Chemical sunscreen

These are made in a lab using various chemical actives. They penetrate the skin and work by changing UV rays into heat, releasing that heat from the skin. After application, these sunscreens take around 20 – 30 minutes to work.

The chemical debate

Some ingredients in chemical sunscreen, such as oxybenzone, have generated recent controversy. Concerns have been raised about the chemicals in sunscreens after some studies have shown that they can cause allergic skin reactions, appear in the bloodstream as a toxin, disrupt hormones and even damage the ecosystem and pose a threat to coral reefs.

So if you’re concerned about oxybenzone, make sure you read the ingredient list on your sunscreen bottle, taking note that hybrid sunscreens will contain both mineral and chemical actives.

Our favourites for the little ones include Mustela that’s available in many chemists Dubai wide and Soleil Du Jour (a broad spectrum mineral suncream suitable for adults and children) thats’s available in Boutique 1 or the St Regis salon. For adults specifically, Elemis have a great range that’s available at many salons around Dubai for around 220 AED and they can also be purchased at www.elemis.ae

Whatever your choice, sunscreen, combined with other protective measures (a hat, sunglasses, covering up and limiting sun exposure) is a must. Now you’re armed with the know how to help you decide which product is best for you and your family. Stay sun smart.

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