The best British sunscreens | Sali Hughes
Yes, we all need vitamin D, but you should never be without reliable sun protection
The most enjoyable sunny-weather activities – playdates and team sports in the park, long afternoons in a beer garden, on the beach or at a friend’s barbecue – have been out of the question. In an often glorious spring, many of us have felt pasty, gloomy and sun-starved. But it’s still possible to enjoy a little sunshine and get the feelgood vitamin D fix we all need, without making oneself more vulnerable to skin cancers and sun damage.
Last year, the New Scientist suggested that white people need only between two to eight minutes unprotected in afternoon summer sunlight a day, with 25-35 minutes for brown or black people, in order to obtain our vitamin D. This can be achieved by turning unprotected arms upwards; it needn’t involve basking naked in the midday sun, face frying. One should be diligent about getting essential rays, while never being without reliable sunscreen for anything more.
The brilliant Altruist has made this possible for almost anyone. Co-founded by British NHS consultant dermatologist Andrew Birnie with a mission to make sunscreen affordable and egalitarian, and reduce skin cancers throughout Europe, Altruist makes high-quality, effective screens from £4.15 for 100ml of water-resistant SPF50 suitable for even sensitive skins (it’s fragrance-free). The brand donates 10p from every tube sold to help children with albinism in Africa, who suffer social exclusion and a high risk of skin cancer. Altruist also makes a whopping litre-size pump bottle of SPF30 for £17 – about a third of the cost of its closest equivalent brand. It’s hard to think of a reason not to buy it for the family – even if you’d like something a bit more, as my kids would say, “bougie” for yourself.
Enter Saltee, another British-founded brand focused solely on protecting our skin, without costing the environment. Sea & Sun Lotion SPF30 (£32, 150ml) is a beautiful, velvety milk without ocean-polluting oxybenzone but with a natural tan accelerator. It feels like heaven, but smells so deliciously like your cancelled summer holiday that it may induce tears.
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