‘Common SPF mistake’ could cause lasting skin damage, warns health expert

This Morning: Expert explains how to choose right sun cream

Cheryl Lythgoe, Society Matron at Benenden Health, warned of a common mistake that many people make when it comes to SPF.

“A common mistake that people make is not realising that sun creams do have an expiry date,” said Lythgoe.

“To find out this vital detail, all you need to do is look for the symbol that looks like an open jar on the sunscreen bottle,” she elaborated.

“This has a number inside that tells you how long the product should be used after it has been opened.”

For example, if you see “12M”, this means the sun cream should be used within 12 months of first being opened.

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“After that time, the sun cream becomes ineffective – no matter how high the sun protection factor is,” Lythgoe warned.

“So, we recommend writing when you first open the sun cream on the bottle for future reference.”

Another common mistake is not applying sun cream properly, which requires “around seven teaspoons” to cover the entire body.

Then people should reapply “every two hours or so, if you’re spending all day in the sun”.

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Lythgoe added: “Even when you are using a high SPF, we always recommend you keep topping up throughout the day.

“If people are in and out of the water, they must increase application.”

Even on cloudy days, people should still wear sun cream as sunlight penetrates through the clouds and “even glass”.

Lythgoe said: ” If the skin is not protected, UV rays can gradually damage the skin, causing wrinkles and increasing the chance of developing skin cancer.”

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What is SPF?

SPF (sun protection factor) measures how much UV radiation it would take to burn protected skin compared to unprotected skin.

For example, if you apply SPF 50 sunscreen, it should take 50 times longer for your skin to burn in the sun compared to unprotected skin.

Everybody should wear sun cream every day that they go outside to help protect the skin.

If you notice a mole or a new mark on the skin that is changing in appearance, do book a doctor’s appointment.

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