You might not be in the sun quite as much, but you
definitely shouldn’t be skipping SPF, says Prudence Wade.

This is the time of year we’d normally start preparing for a summer
holiday abroad: getting a new bikini, digging out sunglasses and buying
our annual bottle of sunscreen.

Unless you’re a skincare junkie who applies SPF every day (and bravo to
you), the fact you might be swapping your holiday for a staycation this
year could mean you forget about sunscreen.

Skin still needs protection – even in the UK and Ireland – so here’s
what you need to know if you’re spending more time at home this

Do you need to wear sunscreen at all?

In a word: yes. No matter where you live or what the season is, the best
thing you can do for your skin is wear sunscreen every day.
Unfortunately, this is something very few of us actually do – and it’s
even more likely to fall by the wayside if you’re sunbathing in your
backyard, instead of an exotic beach.

Here’s Dr Howard Murad, dermatologist and founder of Murad Skincare,
with a timely reminder: “No matter where you are, UV rays are present
all year round, even on cold, cloudy days. UVA rays are the most
damaging and account for 95% of UV that reaches earth. They are the same
strength year-round and can penetrate your skin through windows, even on
cloudy days – so if you’re sitting by a window indoors, you should still
apply your SPF. They contribute to premature ageing, collagen
degradation and even skin cancer. When you go outside, it takes just 10
minutes for UV rays to kickstart the breakdown of collagen in your

So, even if the sun isn’t blazing and you’re not wearing a bikini on the
beach, it’s still a good idea to wear sunscreen.

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB?

We all know UV rays can damage our skin and lead to cancer, but not
everyone’s so clear on the difference between UVA and UVB. Dr Mieran
Sethi, specialist dermatology registrar with the NHS, puts it simply:
“UVA causes ageing and UVB causes burning.” This is the crucial part:
“SPF sunscreen filters UVB, so it is important to select a sunscreen
that has both SPF and UVA filters.”

If your perfect staycation involves sitting on the sofa and watching a
box set, you’ll still need to wear a product with UVA coverage. “UVA
passes through windows, so damage to skin can occur if you’re sitting
indoors next to a window, or when sitting in a car. UVB does not pass
through windows,” Sethi explains. Murad agrees with this analysis,
saying: “UVA rays are the most damaging. They penetrate deeply into the
dermis layer of the skin, and can even penetrate through clouds and

When buying sunscreen, make sure you’re getting something which has both
UVA and B protection. “Sunscreen advertised as SPF 50 only filters UVB
radiation,” says Sethi. “For a sunscreen to filter UVA radiation, it
must also have the UVA filter symbol (UVA in a circle or UVA in a circle
with star rating).”

How often should you apply?

On holiday, we’re used to constantly reapplying sunblock, which might
have come off from sweating or swimming. At home, it’s a good idea to
put sunscreen on after you’ve washed and moisturised your face in the
morning, but whether you need to reapply throughout the day depends on
your lifestyle.

Sethi says you should reapply “if you go outside to exercise, or if you
are repeatedly touching your face. In general, reapplication is more
important if you are outside, as it can be removed by effects of
ultraviolet radiation exposure and atmosphere”.

One of the biggest mistakes Sethi sees people making with sunscreen is
not putting enough on, usually due to consistency of the product and the
undesired cosmetic effect of a white residue. To make sure you’re
wearing enough, she adds: “I usually recommend people apply sunscreen
twice on all exposed sites.”

Murad has a visual way of working out how much product to use. “For each
sunscreen application, apply one ounce of sunscreen (equal to a shot
glass) to the entire body and face, and continuously reapply when out in
the sun for long periods of time,” he says. If you do have some time off
and are spending it in your garden, be as diligent with your sunblock as
you would be abroad. Not only will it protect your skin, but it will
also make you feel like you’re actually on holiday.