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Q and A with Boots Suncare Adviser, Mike Brown

(100 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 24-May-10 09:21:46

Do you know your UVA from your UVB? Unsure about what SPF and product is best to protect your kids from the sun during the warmer months?

Boots Suncare Scientific Adviser, Mike Brown, is joining mumsnet to answer your questions as we approach the summer months. Mike has more than 24 years experience in sun care product development; including SPF testing and product formulation and is also the expert behind Boots Soltan?s ?5 star rating? system.

Send your questions to Mike here before Sunday 29th May and we'll be posting his answers shortly after.

rubyslippers Mon 24-May-10 12:10:37


I would like your thoughts on factor 50 - apparently it offers no more protection than factor 30. Is this true?

Myself and my son are milk bottle white and this is the stuff i use on us both every year.

Also, is 15 mins sun exposure (per day) enough to get the Vitamin D required by a baby to prevent rickets etc? When i say sun exposure i mean in the shade ... i am paranoid about DD getting burnt (she is only 8 months old)

thanks very much

NorbertDentressangle Mon 24-May-10 12:10:42

Could I ask a question that isn't about childrens sun-care but my own please?

Every year, no matter how careful I am applying sun protection cream to my face I must get a trace of it in my eye as it results in a constantly streaming eye , the skin around it gets red and sore from the streaming and dabbing etc. (not a good look, as you can imagine!)

I then use Optrex drops to soothe it but it takes a good few days to return to normal.

I've used the childrens cream hoping it would be more sensitive but that hasn't helped.

Is there a specific ingredient that's causing the eye-watering? Is there a product that won't cause it to happen?

Many thanks

notwavingjustironing Mon 24-May-10 12:45:18

Do you really get what you pay for? I'm horrified at the price of some of the sun creams, but it's usually a guilt purchase, as I'm reluctant to buy the cheaper, own-brand version just in case it doesn't give the same protection.

turkeyboots Mon 24-May-10 12:51:42

Are there any real "once" a day suncreams? I always start off with good intentions with suncream application but by 2pm generally get distracted and forget. And as a very pale redhead, with 2 pale redhead DC, I know from expereince that you can get sunburnt at 4pm or 6pm, not just in the 11 - 3 window!

honeydragon Mon 24-May-10 13:11:03

My ds is 7 I have hardly ever put suncream on him, although he is fair he very quickly goes olive and does not burn. The school have commented that he is not sent in with sun cream before - he is always clothed and in a hat just not creamed, on holidays days out etc he is always kept in the shade at midday after playing out for an hour or so. Am I being irresponsible? Do all children need to be constantly creamed regardless?

paisleyleaf Mon 24-May-10 13:24:53

I've read that the star rating is important as UVA rays can cause longterm skin damage and maybe skin cancer too.
So I do go for 5* creams.
If the star rating is important - why aren't more people made aware of it? It seems to be a bit of a secret.

belledechocolatefluffybunny Mon 24-May-10 13:25:33

We don't use sun block, this is because I can't find one that my son isn't allergic to. After a little while he comes out in hives and it's really expensive to buy a bottle, test it and discard it as it makes him itchy. He's always covered up, stays in the shade and has not been burnt so far. Is suncream really necessary given the fact that it also gives us Vitamin A which is vital? Is there anywhere that I can buy sunblock where I can test it first before I spend £8+ (he's allergic to all of the boots ones, all of the major brands, all of the superdrug brands etc. We also buy the 'improved formula' ones in the hope he's not allergic to these but sadly he is)

turkeyboots P20 is a once a day sunblock.

WilfShelf Mon 24-May-10 13:30:54

I'd like to know why suncreams (and most cosmetics) are not subject to the same kinds of testing that medicines are?

I believe there is now evidence that lots of the novel, chemical ingredients in suncream, such as PABAs, benzones etc (now not used in Europe I think?) might actually be implicated in causing skin cancer, rather than preventing it? I'd like to know his view on this please.

And given the untested risks of free-radical causing agents, is it also wise to replace these with nano-grade metal oxides which are also untested over the long term for their effects on health?

BessieBoots Mon 24-May-10 13:36:45

ROFL that a suncare adviser is named Brown

Just a general unscientific question from me... Do you think that the media's portrayal of tanned as good and healthy is damaging to your work and to general health? I hate even fake tan as I think it pushes tanned skin as the norm.

clayre Mon 24-May-10 13:47:37

I want to know what is in them that ruins childrens clothes, i always use factor 50 on my children (both red heads with very pale skin) i have bought many brands and shop brands and every single one stains their clothes and no matter what i try and cant get the stains off, what is it that stains them and is there any way to remove the stains?

hellymelly Mon 24-May-10 14:08:05

I have read that malignant melanoma is actually associated with sunscreen use,and I am worried as we are a fair-skinned family who are outdoors a lot.I use mineral screens but have heard conflicting things about the micronised particles used in them now.I am highly sensitive to some chemical blockers (oxybenzone) and thats why I've always gone for minerals but now it seems they too might be dodgy and under researched-What to do? I don't want to stay indoors all Summer and never go to the beach!

PrettyCandles Mon 24-May-10 14:41:43

First question:

Is there a high-factor sunscreen that:
does not block skin pores
does not make your face/skin pasty white
does not make your face/skin shiney
is a mineral sunscreen
does not have nano-particles
is sweat-resistant
and only needs to be applied once a day?

Or am I looking for the Holy Grail?

Is there anything near what I'm looking for?

Second question:

Is there any advantage to buying sunscreens labeled as specifically for children/young babies/sensitive skin/older skin? This is from the point of view of a 44yo woman with very sensitive skin and an allergy to sunlight.

Third question:

Is last year's sunscreen OK to use this year? There isn't always a use-within indication on the container.

KeithTalent Mon 24-May-10 15:00:04

Yes, please do answer WilfShelf's question.

I'm with Wilf, living in the tropics means it is impossible to keep the dc out of the sun. Why is there no research as to the long term effects of daily-use suncream?

PrettyCandles Mon 24-May-10 15:08:36

BTW Clayre - the only way that I have found to deal with this is to spray the clothes with oxy-bleach (eg Vanish) before the stain appears. The stain only appears once the clothes have been washed. When I wear sunscreen I spray collars, cuffs, etc, even if they don't appear marked, and they come out clean. If I once forget - the stain appears after teh wash.

But I too would be interested to know why sunscreen stains my whites yellow.

slug Mon 24-May-10 15:27:45

Can I ask why sunscreens are so expensive in the UK? When I go home to NZ I always buy the Cancer Society's sunscreens which are both reasonably priced and very effective.

I also want to know why I have to search high and low for a combined sunscreen/insect repellant.

expatinscotland Mon 24-May-10 15:30:33

slug, Calypso brand sunscreens are very affordable and effective and made entirely in the UK.

turkey, try Ultasun suncream. it's £££ but it really does last all day. i get it in John Lewis.

ThreadKillerQueen Mon 24-May-10 15:54:44

I am really worried that some ingredients in sun-care in fact add to the chance of getting cancer.

Also DD has very sensitive skin and any sun-care I have tried so far has resulted in a rash.

I would like to know what is better for DD. Carefully covered/unexposed or rash/pain.

ruddynorah Mon 24-May-10 15:55:30

i am concerned with what goes into sun creams.

i generally keep my children's skin chemical free so it feels at odds to then slather them in thick lotion containing ingredients i'm not sure about. they bath in oats and their clothes are washed in soap nuts.

i think i'd rather they just covered up, stayed shady and kept out of the midday sun.

plus i absolutely hate the sun cream plus sand combination you get on the beach. makes for tears all round. oh and the mixture of sun cream plus grit/dirt when dd's been digging about in the pre-school garden. yuk.

so convince me please mike brown smile

hobnob57 Mon 24-May-10 16:05:34

Yes to Wilfshelf's question.

Norbert, I thought I was the only one shock. I'd love to know what ingredient is doing it! Scabby, dribbly, red and raw eyes are tiresome.

sunshiney Mon 24-May-10 16:06:28


i'd like to know if it's normal that if i apply a high factor sunscreen (50 i mean) and have say, an hour's exposure, my skin feels sore.

it's not burnt, or even gone pink, but it feels sore and sensitive.

is my skin being damaged? do i need an even higher factor? i am very pale, needless to say.


AtlantisLegoDuplicates Mon 24-May-10 16:42:21

Hello, I am hoping you can advise re what we should be asking our schools to do in terms of sun protection policy.

Our school allows sun lotion to be sent in but won't remind or help children to apply it, or make time for them to.

They won't let the kids play in the available shaded area, either.

This to me seems ridiculous, all they say is 'buy the all day sun lotion' but I have heard it might not be as effective as it claims to be.

Having recently lost a very young, very dear friend to melanoma I am considering taking him out of school for super hot days.

Any thoughts would be great.

AtlantisLegoDuplicates Mon 24-May-10 16:43:09

...also I can't afford £20 or whatever for a tiny bottle.

AtlantisLegoDuplicates Mon 24-May-10 16:46:28

sorry, someone just said the piz buin factor 15 is £10 a bottle (I think)

but why is it factor 15 if it is supposed to be 'all day'? Can you explain how that works please? Thanks very much.

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