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We live in Cyprus, where the sun shines - so we're told - for 360 days per year. Of course it doesn't shine all the time during all those days, but from about April until at least the end of October, we do get probably 95% sunshine during daylight hours.
I'm the kind of person who burns fairly easily, so when we moved here seven years ago, I learned to use sun lotion regularly. I put some on my face every day, and on any other exposed parts during the summer months, any time I'm going out between about 10am and 4pm. Living here isn't like being on holiday, of course; mostly I avoid going out at all during the hot times of day.
We've tried a variety of sun creams over the years. From the point of view of preventing burning on the beach, they all seem to work reasonably well so long as they're applied frequently and liberally. But for everyday protection I find myself returning again and again to Nivea Sun Moisturing Lotion. It's not one that would stand out on the shelves - there are no gimmicks, no dazzling colours, not even a flip-top lid. But it's the one I choose for preference every time.
Firstly, it doesn't smell like a sun cream! I don't know what it is that gives that typical scent to so many of them, but it's something vaguely fruity or flowery. That isn't a problem when on holiday, but for everyday moisturisng and sun protection, I don't want to smell as if I've just come back from the beach!
Nivea Moisturinng lotion smells like a hand cream rather than a sun cream, and the scent is quickly absorbed so it's barely noticeable. I don't like to stand out, so that's ideal for me.
Secondly, it's intended as a moisturiser. I'm in my 40s, and inevitably there are lines on my face. I don't want to look eighty before I'm fifty, so it's important to use a good moisturiser, and this lotion does the job for me well. If I use it first thing in the morning, my face still feels smooth by the evening. If I'm going out in the sun I do put more on beforehand, but I don't go out every day.
Thirdly, and obviously, it offers sun protection. At present I'm using a bottle listed as factor 12, and it's never let me down. Factor 12 may sound rather low in these days where factor 30+ is available, but I read a report some years back saying that anything above factor 15 makes very little difference, other than a total sunblock. This makes sense: the way they calculate the factor is by how much longer than usual someone can be in the sun without burning, when wearing the cream.
I know from experience that I can burn if I'm out in hot sun for more than about ten minutes. So factor 2 would mean I could stay out for twenty minutes, factor 6 would mean I could stay out for an hour, and the factor 12 which I use would theoretically allow me to stay out in the sun for up to two hours without burning.
But I never spend anywhere near two hours in the sun. If I'm relaxing on the beach (rare, but it happens) I still only spend no more than twenty minutes at a time actually in the sun, or I get a headache. So I could probably get away with a cream with a much lower factor. However I prefer to be on the safe side, so I use anything from about factor 8 to factor 12, depending what's available and what's on special offer!
Finally, it's easy to apply - the consistency of the cream is a bit like ketchup, and it absorbs very quickly and easily into my skin. It doesn't leave it feeling greasy or uncomfortable in any way.
This bottle claims to contain 'Vitamin E Plus'. I'm not sure precisely what the plus means, but I'm a big fan of vitamin E in general. The contents of a single capsule of vitamin E works wonders in soothing burns of any sort (including sunburn) and it's reputed to be good for the skin in general. So most sun creams contain it these days.
Finally, Nivea sun products - again like many sun creams - are water resistant. That means you can swim while wearing this, and it should continue to protect you. However it's not completely waterproof, and it does need to be reapplied after swimming. We don't ever go swimming in the hottest part of the day here, but in the summer we sometimes go down to the beach for a swim about 4pm. I generally apply some more of this sun cream before going into the water, and it has always protected me from burning.
Personally, I find sun creams tend to last at least two or three years in the bottle, if they're not used entirely in one season. However the manufacturers do claim that new sun cream should be bought each year.
If you're going to be out and about regularly in hot sunshine, and have skin that burns easily, then it is well worth buying new products each year. But if, like me, you use your sun cream as much for moisturising as for sun protection, then there's probably no need to worry about use-by dates.
As with any new product, it's worth trying on a small patch of skin just in case you have an allergic reaction. One of my sons has quite sensitive skin but has had no problem with Nivea sun products, however there's no guarantee that any cream will be safe, particularly for those who are inclined to allergies.
For a baby or young child, a sunblock should be used rather than a product like this. And of course it's unwise for anyone to spend time in the sun around lunch-time, or to go out immediately for several hours in one day if you are not used to the sun.
Cost and availability
An advantage of a popular brand such as Nivea is that it's widely available at most supermarkets and pharmacies, in the UK and elsewhere. A disadvantage is that it can be expensive, although as it absorbs so easily and needs so little re-applying, it may work out fairly economical long-term. A quick online check shows that Tesco sells a 200ml bottle for about £8.99, and Sainsbury's for £9.99. However Sainsbury's do also have a 400ml bottle for £14.99, and their online store shows several Nivea sun products on special offer currently at around half-price. It's often worth looking out for such offers.
Protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays with NIVEA Moisturising Sun Lotion. ... more
Water-resistant, its long-lasting formula is enriched with Vitamin E, which helps fight premature skin ageing and leaves your skin looking healthier.Easy to apply, the lotion has a high sun defence factor (SPF30) and features an enhanced UVA and UVB filter system that is EU compliant for immediate skin protection.