Do I Really Need to Wear SPF?

ruth crilly model tips

Last week I popped to see Dr Marko Lens, who is fast becoming one of my favourite people in the world of beauty, science and…just in general. His sense of humour is even more bonkers than my own, yet he’s a leading expert in the field of skin cancer and completely and utterly captivating when he talks about skincare. I asked him a few – very basic – questions about suncare and SPF mainly because I wanted to clear up some of my own doubts, and the results of this little chat are below. In the video. Yes you have to watch it – if I had a secretary I’d get her to do a transcript, but I am unfortunately lacking in that particular department.

If you really can’t bear to watch me speak, then here’s the gist of the video:

1) Q: Do I have to wear SPF? A: YES if you’re exposed to the sun (even if it’s cloudy) for more than about fifteen minutes. [Those who rarely venture outside need not worry, obviously; those who work outdoors, are on holiday, on the beach or even sat on a long lunchbreak outside a cafe, should make sure they are protecting their skin.]

2) Q: What kind of SPF do I need? A: Always look for a suncare product that displays the UVA symbol in a circle or clearly states that it’s a Broad Spectrum formula. [You want to protect from both UVA and UVB rays (ones that age and ones that burn) so that you’re reducing your skin cancer risk and also preventing lasting, ageing sun damage.]

3) Q: Can’t I just rely on the SPF in my foundation? A: No, you won’t use enough. [You are supposed to use a whole teaspoonful for your head and neck, which you’ll see from the video is LOADS. With foundation, I probably use about a tenth of that amount. I will add, though, that I use a fair bit of product when I apply BB Cream or Tinted Moisturiser, so if this has both UVA and UVB protection and I’m really applying very generously, then so be it. On days when I’m only sporadically in the sun (most days) I rely on this top layer of makeup. If it’s any longer than sporadic exposure then I’ll use a dedicated suncare product. Note that suncare has to be reapplied frequently (every couple of hours) if you’re in the sun all day, so if you’re truly going to be outdoors for the day then remember that and carry out your beauty routine accordingly. There’s no point doing a full face of perfect makeup if you have to reapply your SPF two hours later – but then, if you’re on the beach or on holiday, do you really need a thick wad of foundation on?]

4) Q: Which factor do I use? A: more important to look for both UVA and UVB protection. However, if you’re very fair, redhead or sensitive to the sun then you need a higher SPF – SPF50. [I’m using SPF50 even though I don’t ever burn, really. I’m using the highest SPF I can to get rid of my dark spots! Usually I wear a well-formulated SPF15 or 30. I don’t think that you necessarily need higher than this if your skin is “ok” in the sun, ie, not overly fair or sensitive. In fact, I tend to find more problems with higher SPFs in terms of skin reactions and stinging in the eyes. Might just be me…]

spf face review

I’ve listed some of my most-used SPFs below, just for ideas. My most-used at the moment is the Lancome SPF50 ( – it gets on quite well with my skin and doesn’t feel too chalky or look too pasty-white. I also love the Dior one that I bought from FeelUnique a few weeks ago, though it is very scented. It smells like Caudalie’s Divine Oil!

Watch the video here if you’re on email, or scroll down for web users. For those wondering about Vitamin D with all of this SPF then I’ll put together a post soon – I take a supplement, because my levels are really low. Always have been, even when I wasn’t quite so religious (ahem) about applying SPF… I take this Vitamin D supplement here but please check with your doctor to see which strength you need if you want to get yourself sorted.

High Protection SPFs I like:
Lancome SPF50 GN Shield:
Alpha-H Essential Moisturiser SPF50: (use code CULTAH to get free delivery on this)
Garnier SPF50: (this one is great and only £6.50!)
Clarins UV Plus Protective Day Screen:

For Oily or acne-prone:
Dr Murad SPF15: (this doesn’t say broad spectrum on tube but I’m 99% sure it is! Let me know if you have found otherwise..)
Avene Matte SPF50:

Some SPF15s I like:
Boots Protect and Perfect:
Sisley Sunleya:
Olay 7-in-1 Anti-Ageing Day Moisturiser SPF15:

Tinted Moisturisers and BB Creams with UVA/UVB Protection (must be used very generously if you’re to get anything like the stated protection!)
Boots No7 Tinted Moisturiser:
l’Occitane BB Cream:
Clarins BB Cream:

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