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Staying safe in sun doesn't have to Costa fortune; Sun protection is a travel essential, say medical experts, but it doesn't have to be expensive.. there are plenty of effective budget versions on the market.

Byline: merle brown

WHAT'S the first thing you should pack for that longawaited beach break? A bikini? A sunhat? Maybe some new flip-flops? Wrong.

The first thing you should pack in your holiday suitcase is sunscreen.

Lotion, spray, mist, or gel, it's the only summer must-have you really need when you fly off on that beach break.

But if price is putting you off, then think again. Yes, sunscreen can be expensive - but there are plenty of budget alternatives out there.

Although you may think buying the most expensive sun care will protect you more from the sun's harmful rays, it's not strictly true.

Big-name brands may have added skincare bonuses in some products but general sunscreen doesn't have to be expensive to work. In fact, it really should be incredibly cheap, according to one skin cancer specialist.

Dr Andrew Birnie, a leading dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon, based in Kent, believes most sun care is over-priced and, to prove his point, he has developed his own range of sunscreens at budget prices.

He said: "Deciding whether or not to wear sunscreen, or how much or how often to apply it, should not be based on cost.

"Everyone should have a basic right to take the necessary precautions to reduce their risks of developing skin cancer. While there are some excellent products available, most are so expensive that people are reluctant to use them as often, or in as large a quantity as they should. But they don't need to be."

Dr Birnie developed his range, Altruist, as a response to what he sees as greed from other manufacturers.

He said: "Altruist can cost so little because I have worked with people throughout the industry to reduce their margins at every level.

"They all understand that we passionately want to reduce the incidence of skin cancer and do something positive.

"So, the profit margins at all stages are very, very low. The high cost of sun care is mainly down to profit margins for the manufacturer, the retailer and then a fairly hefty slice for marketing, too.

"Another factor is VAT. Although, of course, we all pay this, it does seem unfair to apply tax to a product, which is designed to improve one's health and thus reduce the cost to the NHS in the long-term."

According to Cancer Research UK, malignant melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with on average 40 new cases being diagnosed every day.

Applying sun protection when on holiday is essential but is also necessary here in Scotland on sunny days - and at other times.

Most of us are guilty of not applying anywhere near enough sunscreen and Dr Birnie advises that if you are using it to reduce skin ageing - the UVA rays from the sun cause those lines and wrinkles - then you should be using it almost all year round.

He said: "I use sunscreen on my face from March to October, applying in the morning and then reapplying if I am out for any length of time.

"If you are out in the sun all day, you should reapply every couple of hours and most people do not apply enough. You need to put enough on so that your skin looks white when it first goes on. Then rub in it until it disappears."

The science behind the Altruist sunscreen is obviously convincing. Dr Birnie's brand uses the most advanced filters possible.

Micronised titanium dioxide offers UVA protection beyond EU standards, and Tinosorb A2B, one of the most modern sun protection ingredients developed to date, offers protection beyond the usual UV spectrum. Altruist is also highly photo-stable - this means its UV filters do not degrade easily in the sun.

It's also suitable for sensitive skins, is fragrance and paraben-free, hypoallergenic and non pore-blocking.

The Altruist range has SPF30 and SPF50 to choose from, and costs just PS2 and PS3.75, respectively, for 100ml. There is also a family size litre of SPF30 for just PS14. The products are available from Amazon.

The harmful UVB rays are the ones that cause the painful sunburn, and when choosing your sunscreen you should be careful to make sure it has UVA and UVB protection.

When choosing sunscreen, the most expensive is definitely not the best. According to a Which 2016 survey, some of the best sun care products tested came from discount supermarket chain Aldi, and high street chemist, Lloyds Pharmacy.

All of their products come in at below PS10, and include products for kids, and sensitive skin.

Budget brand Calypso offer a range of 50 products, from once-a-day sun creams, to beach bag-friendly sun cream sachets, to scalp protectors, with most of them also under the PS10 mark.

Seena Seka, sun care specialist for Linco Care, who make Calypso, said: "Our products remain at a low price without compromising on quality and effectiveness so people can spend more money on enjoying time in the sun, safely."

If you're the " Superdrug's Solait range is another budget version, which offers all sorts of products atday, every purse-friendly prices, including children's sun care.

of people apply One of their best buys is their PS12.99 Holiday Sun Protection Pack which contains two Moisturising Sun Lotions, SPF15 and SPF30, a Kid's Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF30 and Moisturising After Sun, all 200ml.

The advice to follow then is not to choose the most expensive sun care, thinking it will be the best, but to look for the one you can afford, buy plenty of it, and don't forget to reapply.

Dr Pixie McKenna, above, Superdrug's health ambassador, gives us her tips for staying safe in the sun.

1COVER UP When you're out in the sun, cover shoulders, arms and legs with long sleeves and a sarong 2 SLAP ON THE SUN LOTION Apply generous amounts of sun lotion of at least SPF30 to clean, dry skin, before going out in the sun 3 WEAR A HAT OR A CAP A hat is good at keeping the heat off your head, face, neck and ears. For children, choose hats with flaps that cover the delicate area at the back of the neck.

SLIP ON SHADES Don't forget that eyes need protection, too.

4 5 CHILL OUT IN THE SHADE The sun's rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm. Stay in the shade then, and keep babies in the shade at all times.

SCREEN TESTED Skin cancer surgeon Dr Andrew Birnie has developed his own range of suncreams

on Sun Moisturising If you're out in the sun all day, reapply every couple of hours. Most people do not apply enough
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 18, 2017
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