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Summer Skin Care

With the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics citing a rise of 78% of malignant melanomas in men and 48% in women over the last ten years, it's clear that there's a lot we could still be doing to protect our skin when we're in the sun. Even if it's only as an attempt to lessen our chance of getting wrinkles, any improvement on sun protection is a positive step. Here are some ways to maximise your skin's protection whilst still having fun.

1. Stay out of the sun

The absolute best you can do for your skin is to is stay out of the sun and become a shade-seeking missile. Aspire to be pale and interesting. Don a hat and go for the cool and mysterious look, whilst still wearing sun protection for those moments when you just can't avoid it.

2. Choose your sunscreen wisely

If you're a sun worshipper or  if staying in the shade isn't a realistic option for you, make sure that you choose your sunscreen with care. The first thing you need to look at is the SPF, or "sun protection factor". This tells you how long your lotion will protect you in the sun. So, an SPF of 20 should mean that you can stay in the sun for 20 times longer than it would usually take for you to burn (i.e. if you usually burn in 10 minutes this means that you can go for 200 minutes before you need to reapply). Of course this is not precise, and you will burn, eventually.

Secondly, look for one that has both UVA and UVB coverage for maximum protection. It's best to get this before your holiday as you cannot rely on what might be available (and at what price) once you get to your resort.

3. Experiment

All sunscreens were not created equal: there are many different types including spray on, roll on, powder and stick, as well as the more traditional bottled ones. You can even get sunscreens that turn your skin a different colour (great for kids as you can see when it's starting to wear off in the pool), and ones that contain insect repellent too. Shop around: it's often one of those products that you can get a great deal on.

If you or your child has sensitive skin, ask if you can spot test the cream and come back half an hour later.

4. Apply generously

Don't be stingy and apply it at least ten to twenty minutes before you go out in the sun to give it time to become effective. Pay attention to easily forgotten areas: toes, the hairline, cleavage etc.

5. Choose your time in the sun

As long as you remember the phrase about only mad dogs and Englishmen being out in the midday sun, you'll be fine. Although swap "midday" for 11am through to 3pm. There are reasons why hot countries have siestas at this time -- and one of those reasons is because the heat and sun is just not good for you. Use this time to nap, head to a restaurant or read in the shade.

6. Be clever with your accessories

Hats should block out as much of the sun as possible, also ideally covering your neck. Again, check that sunglasses offer at least 99% UVB protection and 95% UVA. If they are merely all about the look, put them back on the shelf.

Cheats that don't work

1. Don't think that by wearing a moisturiser with a sunscreen of 10, a foundation with a SPF of 15 and a sunscreen with an SPF of 20 that you've got coverage of 45. At the most you'll have coverage of 20.

2. Wearing long sleeves will provide some cover, but if you are relying on your clothes you'll need to use specific sunscreen-protection clothes that have an SPF.

3. Don't be tempted to use sun screen that's out of date. That date is there for a reason.

Finally, it can be glorious to be out in the sun, but sun damage will build up over time, and it's one of those things that just can't be undone. Sticking our guidelines should improve your sun protection, but it's also one of those things that you should think about all year - not just on your holiday.

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Paula Gardner

Paula Gardner is the Press Officer for Essential Travel. Paula is big Italophile and loves many things about the country: its rich red wines, strong cheeses, creamy gelato, passionate people and lyrical language. Paula has been learning Italian for four years but is still shy about speaking it. On a career break inn her 20s she travelled the world, visiting every continent, but travel now tends to be to European cities. Apart from just about anywhere in Italy, other favourites are Lisbon and Palma in Majorca. Sicily is top of the bucket list.