Prepare for the sunshine season ahead. Lisa Haynes unveils SPF advice and products for a safer summer.

Hello heatwave! Winter jackets have finally been thrown to the back of the wardrobe and replaced by a thick layer of sun cream.

But for some, the sun appearing in a blaze of glory didn't trigger an urge to rush out and stock up on SPF... More than a third of Brits don't wear any form of sun protection on home soil, according to a recent St Tropez survey.

It seems some us are aren't seeing the light when it comes to basic sun safety.

Worryingly, a fifth of the population believe that you need to burn your skin to get a tan.

"Sunlight makes us feel good," says sk:n's medical director Dr Askari Townshend.

"But UV radiation is damaging to our skin. Gen up so you can have fun in the sun without paying the price with your complexion."

Soak up the rays safely with our expert guide to sun facts and sun fiction.

True: You need to protect with an SPF at home and abroad "Sun safety should not simply be saved for far away shores," says Abi Cleeve of Ultrasun UK.

"The risk to skin health from harmful UV rays in the UK is just as significant as from those abroad, so protecting yourself and your family whilst out and about in this country is a must."

False: A golden glow equals healthy skin "Tanning is a response to damage in the skin," warns Mike Brown, Boots suncare expert.

"The damage will be less through a sunscreen but the lower the SPF that you use, the less damage protection you get.

"If you're still insistent on getting a tan, then the actual SPF you need is that which stops you burning whilst still allowing maximum tanning. This will vary according to your skin type or sun sensitivity."

True: Red means danger "A single case of bad sunburn can double your chances of getting skin cancer," says Anna Gucova, nurse specialist at The Mole Clinic.

"Aim to apply a minimum SPF20 around 30 minutes before going outside.

"Around 85% of melanoma cases are caused by sunburn, so avoid burning at all costs. If your skin starts to feel irritated, get out of the sun and apply SPF immediately."

False: You don't need protection in the shade "The shade offers at most SPF5-7," explains Dr Sam Bunting, cosmetic dermatologist and Piz Buin ambassador.

"Around 84% of the sun's rays bounce off the ground so get under an umbrella, especially if by the sea. You should reapply sun protection every two hours."

True: You can use SPF protection on your hair "The sun's rays can damage our hair and scalp too so hair conditioning products offering UV protection are the answer," suggests Kerry Capewell of the Naturtint UK Haircolour Helpline.

"The intense heat from the sun can open hair cuticles causing the hair to dry, increasing split ends and also colour can fade quite rapidly.

"Always apply sun cream to any exposed partings and around the hairline or tops of the ears."

False: Sunbeds will prep your skin ready for a holiday "No, no and no again!" says Paul Banwell, consultant plastic & cosmetic surgeon.

"The misconception about developing a base tan on a sunbed as a way of extra protection before a sunshine holiday is a dangerous myth that must be dispelled.

"Getting some natural sun is fine as long as it is in moderation - we need it for vitamin D and also psychologically it's beneficial."

True: You need to protect your face, even on cloudy days "UV protection of SPF30 or higher needs to be worn, even on dull days," says FAB dermatologist Dr Buka.

"As sun exposure becomes more intense, you'll also want to make sure your products contain antioxidants to scavenge free radicals caused by sun exposure."

False: People with lots of moles should stay out of the sun "No, only a small number of melanomas arise from a pre-existing mole," says Dr Sandeep H Cliff, consultant dermatologist.

"Also, it is accepted that moles are more common in fair-skinned people and since they are more prone to skin cancer these people should be careful and be sure to cover up with sun screen when they are exposed to limit the risks."

True: A healthy diet can boost levels of sun protection "Plants protect themselves from sun damage with pigments such as lutein and anthocyanadins. When these are present in high quantities in our diet we see a complex effect on skin chemistry," reveals Dr Samantha Christie, nutritionist and ambassador of Colladeen Visage.

"A natural SPF is achieved as well as an ability to reverse pre-existing sun damage but an SPF is still always required."

False: If you wear an SPF your skin is totally protected "Not necessarily, it's important to remember that SPF relates only to UVB radiation (the type that causes sunburn) but not to UVA which still causes damage to DNA, premature ageing of the skin and cancer," sk:n's medical director Dr Askari Townshend says.

"Look for products with a UVA rating from 1-5 stars (5 being the best). This is important as UVA can penetrate through clouds and causes damage all year around."

Tried & tested Claire Macdonald celebrates the Jubilee with a diamond facial.

"I'm celebrating the Jubilee weekend by getting married so a fresh glow has never been more important. Little did I know that I'd be treated like a queen with Carita's Diamond of Beauty facial at Titanic Spa. Despite being face-focused, the luxurious hour and 45-minute treatment kicked off with a relaxing foot scrub using Renovateur, an earthy exfoliating scrub made from sunflower seeds. As my feet soaked, the therapist performed a soothing back rub and heavenly scalp massage - perfect if you've had a hard day wearing a crown! The ritual was a great way to relax for the facial. A refreshing cleanse was combined with a firm but gentle massage around my face, neck and decolletage. A progressive serum was then massaged into my skin to prepare for the anti-ageing element of the facial. The Pro-Lift machine delivers electrical currents to the skin stimulating facial muscles so they 'lift' - a strange sensation when they involuntary start twitching. A smoothing peel exfoliating mask followed. As the mask worked its magic, my therapist massaged the citrus-scented Fluid de Beaute 14 nourishing oil (for body face & hair) into my arms, hands, neck and shoulders. But what about the diamonds? The best is saved for last as my skin is sculpted and contoured with Carita's Diamond Cream to make my skin sparkle. To really make me feel like royalty, I polish off a glass of champagne and chocolate truffles in the relaxation room. With my skin glowing, I feel ready to marry my own Prince Charming.

:: Carita Diamond of Beauty facial, £185 for 1 hour 45 minutes at Titanic Spa, Huddersfield (0845 410 3333/

:: To find your nearest Carita Diamond of Beauty facial visit Buy it now Get fruity with Elemis's Limited Edition Papaya Enzyme Peel. To mark the product's 10th anniversary, the packaging has been given a juicy print makeover by British artist Laura Oakes. Available from June 1, priced £28.60 (0117 316 1888/

Beauty bulletin :: Celeb smile Brits are chomping at the bit to flash a smile like Cheryl Cole's. Almost two thirds (64%) of us want to improve their smile with teeth whitening, according to a new survey by Nokia to mark the arrival of the exclusive white Lumia 900 at Phones4u. Tom Cruise has the pearly whites that men would most covet, while women are fond of the royal sparklers belonging to Kate Middleton.

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