Recently my Facebook feed has been packed full of statuses that read “(insert name) checked in at London Luton Airport – travelling to (insert destination)”. That one seemingly insignificant status update has the power to fill everyone on your friend list with pure envy – and no doubt you’ve been a victim of it at least once before too. Like many others, holidays are the absolute highlight of my year and the fact that I’ve now been waiting a whole 267 days, with 31 days still to go, is beginning to make me feel incredibly impatient. So, to pass the time, let the holiday prep commence.

My annual holiday is usually a week away in the Canary or Balearic islands, though this year is very different as I’ll be exploring three different countries on the other side of the world all which have a 30-40 degree heat – for 28 days. With this in mind, my usual packing habits needed an overhaul, and a large one at that. Evening dresses have been swapped for yet more casual shorts and strappy tops, pretty sandals have been swapped for Nikes and cheap flip flops, and makeup has been swapped for tinted moisturiser – though one thing that seriously needed a re-think was my usual sun lotion. Whilst all sun lotions protect you to a point, I read back in May that certain well-known brands didn’t pass the ‘Which’ SPF tests, showing that they only offered just two-thirds of the SPF they claimed. Typically, one of the ones that received the big “red cross” was a brand I regularly used – Hawaiian Tropic. I won’t lie, I only began using it years ago because it sponsored ‘90210’ and was in a pretty bottle – though naïve little me didn’t think to actually research it beforehand. Needless to say I’ve since done a fair (bordering on excessive) amount of research ready for this year’s holiday, so I thought I’d share a few tips with you.

Expensive isn’t always best

You might think that because it’s mega pricey, it must be incredible – but this isn’t always the case. As an example I considered splashing out on the Riemann P20 brand that offers 10 hour protection, that was until I read reviews that said, despite it being a good sun lotion, it actually stains all of your clothes a gross yellow colour. At an incredibly expensive price of £24.99 per bottle, do you really want to risk staining your clothes all in aid of not having to apply the sun lotion as often? I certainly don’t.

It’s not all about the SPF

I read on a travel blog a while ago that the SPF isn’t the only key part. Next time you go sun lotion shopping, flip the bottle over and have a read of the UVA rating on the back. Ideally you want four stars which is classed as “superior” – or even better, five stars. Three stars isn’t too bad, but anything less I would be concerned about.

Alternate brands

If you’re trying out a new sun lotion, it might be worth taking a combination of two or three brands that all offer the same protection. If you get to your holiday destination and find that it your skin doesn’t agree with your chosen sun lotion, you might have an issue. In all fairness you can buy sun lotion in most holiday destinations, but to save wasting money on two or three bottles that you can’t use – maybe take this advice!

Take note of the packaging

Is the bottle lid likely to open and leak all over your luggage? Will you get as much from a spray can in comparison to a bottle? It sounds silly, but simple things like this are always worth considering. I’ve gone for a mixture of spray and bottle lotions (purely as sometimes spray bottles are easier when on the go!), both with lids that I trust to be left alone in my suitcase!

Look into the finer details

Do you have any allergies or skin conditions that a sun lotion might clash with? For example, I have a skin condition where I can’t put oily products on my skin – so I hunted down the most oil-free, affordable sun lotions I could find and stocked up. The Garnier ones are said to be perfect for oily skin, and I chose the “allergy” lotion from Piz Buin and the “Sensitive Skin” from Garnier as both supposedly help with annoying sun-related reactions and irritations that you might get during your time away. I’m yet to try them out of course, but from what I’ve read they’re absolute winners!

Take a variation of SPFs

Unless you burn really badly, it might be worth taking SPF50 for the first few days or weeks, and then finish the holiday on a slightly lower factor such as a SPF30. There’s no problem with sticking to the highest factor the whole time, but it usually has a horribly thick, paste-like consistency – something of which you might not want to put up with for the whole holiday! Also, once you’ve built up a nice bronzed glow, you won’t be *quite* as prone to burning (but you must still wear sun lotion and have periods of time in the shade!)

FYI, it doesn’t end at sun lotion

Sun lotion is key, as we all know, but what a lot of people forget is that a good aftersun lotion or aloe vera gel is heavenly on burnt or dry skin. Take a small-medium bottle along with you and smother yourself in it once or twice a day, ideally before bed. You’ll wake up feeling fresher, softer, smelling good and ready for the day ahead.

I hope that helps anyone who is unsure of what sun lotions to go for when planning any future holidays! Has anyone got any holidays planned for the end of this year like me?



Shop my sun lotions here:

Piz Buin Allergy Lotion SPF30 | Piz Buin Allergy Lotion SPF50 | Garnier Ambre Solaire Dry Mist SPF30 | Garnier Ambre Solaire Sensitive Skin SPF50 | Malibu Aloe Vera Aftersun Gel

See the www.which.co.uk SPF test results here (though it’ll cost you £1!)


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