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Idle musings on sunscreens (by Claire Jarvis)

As I sit and write it’s the first Saturday of British Summer Time and the rain is incessant and even my new puppy refuses to go out!

But as a person with EPP I know that tomorrow the sky will clear and the sun will be out in all its “glory”  and the battle will begin to try and get jobs done in the garden and normal day-to-day tasks which require venturing out into the outside world whilst all the time working out how not to get burnt by the “glorious” sunshine….

So, whilst reviewing my ever-growing collection of long-sleeved coats (with sleeves long enough to enable me to keep my hands covered), gloves (gardening and driving), solitary hat (nothing has worked quite as well as my Australian style bush hat – no corks, but does slip down over my eyes if it’s warm!!),  my thoughts turned to the progress that has been made with sun screen….and whether there is now any alternate to the ineffective (for me) factor 50+ of a few years ago…but where to start my search for info…

Before I ask Dr Google with its “guaranteed” factual accuracy, I start with the BPA Skin Safety page where I find a straight forward explanation as to why my previous “slap it all over…and repeat” factor 50 didn’t actually work – it appears that that only worked against ultraviolet light and that  “..reflectant sunscreens that are based on titanium dioxide or zinc oxide will be more effective.”

The next question is what types of reflectant sunscreen are there? And will I look like a Test Cricketer with a white nose, lips and forehead? And although I know  “it doesn’t matter what other people think of how you look”, it still takes a huge bucket load of self-confidence to go to Sainsburys looking like you have forgotten to wash off your Halloween face paint (in July…). So back to the BPA Skin Safety page…and yes there is a load of info on Dundee Cream and what I need to look for in other mineral sunscreens as well as a few alternate suggestions.

After a bit of search engine action and reading some customer reviews it appears that some products leave a white residue, others absorb fully and some are tinted to reflect skin tone. But as stated by the BPA, and highlighted in some of the reviewers who state they ended up with “a nice tan”,  even these sunscreens don’t offer full protection, and as those of us who live with EPP know, as well as us being very special people (I know this to be true as it was said once on an episode of the BBC’s Casualty….), our tolerance of how much sun exposure we can take before we scurry off to the shady side of the road or scuttle back indoors is different for each of us.

So, will I take the plunge and try a sunscreen? I’m not quite sure, but with a new puppy to walk I am going to have to consider all options. Some alternatives available are shown below – top two have been shown[1] to be at least as effective as Dundee Cream and in some colours, even more so.

  • Anthelios Mineral One (light, medium, tan, brown and dark brown), La Roche-Posay
  • Anthelios Pigment Correct, La Roche-Posay
  • Surf Mud natural zinc
  • Invisible Zinc Broad Spectrum 50 SPF
  • Neutrogena Sheer Zinc-Oxide Face dry-touch sunscreen 50 SPF

But whilst I ponder, the torrential rain has abated. So I will pull on my wellies and big coat and glory in a long dog walk in the glorious British Summer Time drizzle, where I don’t have to worry about sun protection factors and that dreaded tingle that foretells that I have been out just a little bit too long…..

[1] Ewan Eadie, Martin Josso, Rita Touti, Pascale Renoux, Robert S Dawe, Sally H Ibbotson, Commercial visible-light protecting sunscreens for photosensitive individuals, British Journal of Dermatology, Volume 188, Issue 3, March 2023, Pages 445–447, https://doi.org/10.1093/bjd/ljac112

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