So this post is a subjective one. I have very fair skin and burn very easily. Living in South East Asia I must be a lot more careful in the sun than in some other regions so here are some tips that can be useful for anyone.
These tips and advice have been gathered through experience and recommendations given by professionals such as dermatologists among others. Pick and use as you would like.
Please note that putting sunscreen on does not stop you from getting a tan. Just means you do not get burned in the process and keep a more healthy skin.
Sunscreen… SPF over 50 is not better than 50 itself. In Europe, companies do not specify values over 50 it is written 50+ instead (so I have been told by my dermatologue and read online). The SPF gives you through calculation the amount of time that you should reaply the sunscreen on. You multiply the SPF by the time you can stay in the sun before burning. In theory if you can stay in the sun 10 mins before burning with a SPF 30 you should be able to stay under the sun for 300mins (5hours) before burning. Keep in mind that this calculation is done by putting a lot of suncreen on, most only put on a third or less than what is necessary.
Also you should check that you sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA rays. Brands have different ways of showing it: some use a PA+ system, some say broad spectrum, or multi spectrum.
For info UVB rays are the ones that give you the burns, and UVA will accelerate skin ageing, both could initiate skin cancers.
When there is an overcast sky it does not mean that you cannot burn. That is when I got some of my worst burns! In this case better safe than sorry I think.
I apply sunscreen before I leave the house and usually wait a bit until it dries so it does not rub off on my clothes (that is when you get silly marks where your clothes were). You can think or it as day body lotion.
If I apply it for the first time when I am already outside, I wait 15 minutes in the shade before going into the sun or swimming.
Waterproof or sweat-proof is very practical. I use an Australian brand called Cancer Council that I find in HK and it works great. If I need some when I am away Banana Boat works well and you can find it nearly everywhere.I am trying a new one at the moment which is environmentally sea friendly and not too thick; I have not really tried it in the sea so to be continued…
The one shown here (repel by Cancer Council) is the only sunscreen I have seen to repel mosquitoes too. I have tried in in areas which have some mosquitoes and it seems to work so far.
As for after being in the sun, take care of your skin so you can keep your tan/glow longer and not peel! Peeling still happens if you do not burn but your skin dries.
If you go back to France or have someone there that can send you a package, buy some Biafine. It is my “in case of bad burns remedy”. Biafine is/was used in French hospitals for second degree burns and is my miracle cream. I do not use it every evening after being in the sun (Aloe Vera is great for regular use), but only if my skin is red or has been more than a week in the sun. It gives the skin a re-hydrating boost. Also if you do get burnt (happens sometimes even when you are careful), put a thick layer on (cream still white on skin) and leave it on. You will see that after 20 mins or so you skin will have absorbed the cream. I do it 2 or 3 times before going to sleep and the next day the big red burn has settled down for a light pink tint. No idea if other countries sell the cream, it is not sold in HK. I tried looking for a cream of similar composition but no luck. If you come across it let me know please!