Sun exposure is responsible for 90% of premature ageing and usually the most damage has been done at an early age. It is essential to protect your skin from the sun at all times, even on cloudy days. When skin is exposed to ultraviolet light, its natural defense mechanism, melanin, becomes activated. A suntan is actually the body's way of trying to protect us, but melanin alone cannot be relied upon to protect the skin.
Sun care preparations either have chemical filters that absorb UV light or physical filters that sit on the skin's surface and reflect UV rays. Many have a mixture of both filters for maximum protection. If you have sensitive skin, opt for preparations with physical filters only.
The SPF of a product refers to the amount of time you can spend in the sun before your skin will burn. For example, if your skin becomes red after 10 minutes, an SPF of 15 will increase this by 15 times so in theory you could remain in the sun for up to 150 minutes without burning.
For daily use, use a moisturizer with a broad spectrum SPF 15 and if you are exposed to intense sun, use a total block. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors then reapply frequently, especially after swimming. If you do get sunburnt, slather on a cooling aloe vera gel.
Sunbeds are as lethal as the sun and increase your chances of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer by seven times. To create a golden glow, it's better to use a fake tan. Use a suitable formula: gel or spray-on types are best for combination and oily skins; lotions, sprays or creams suit normal skin; and creamy formulas suit dry skin.
Do not use self tans on sensitive skin. Apply to cleansed skin, working carefully around the hairline and brows. Self tans can discolor the eyebrows, so protect them with petroleum jelly. Blend down into the neck to prevent any tan lines. Wash hands immediately.