What sun screen to buy when going to Dubai or Abu Dhabi?
Before my husband and I moved to Dubai, we were terrified of the sun and how hot it would be. We thought we would burn to a crisp the moment we stepped food outside of our apartment. We had no idea of how we were going to deal with the sun, let alone if we would be able to deal with temperatures of 45+ degrees Celsius.
Mu husband and I thought it was time to start and research sun creams. Where I tan very easily and go incredibly dark, my husband is the complete opposite. He has put the “white” in “white British” – or more like Irish since I guess that’s where his white skin really comes from. The first rays of sunshine in the year are sure to burn him, and he never goes outside in summer without a good layer of sun cream. Looking at my husband and his relationship with the sun, I have no idea why we thought coming to Dubai was a great idea.
But it was! Because life here is amazing, and a good sun cream goes a long way here in Dubai!
I have made a list of the 5 best sun creams we have used so far and why we are still using them or have left them on the shelf.
Because my husband is fair and I am quite dark, we do use different sunscreens. Where he often opts for a sunblock or an SPF50, I tend to like my tan which means I often put on an SPF30.
When researching sunscreen to wear in Dubai, one of the things we were looking for in a great sunscreen was the fact that it was long-lasting. As a teacher, my husband has to go outside on the playground to invigilate kids. This means there are times he has to be in the direct sun (uh-oh!). While most sunscreens only last for a few hours, he had to look for a sunscreen that stayed on for at least 10 to 14 hours without reapplying.
The best one we found so far was the Riemann P20 in SPF 50 and SPF30. My husband uses this one in summer when teaching. It is very easy to apply as it comes in a sprayer. He mainly uses it on his body as we tend to use a literal cream for our faces.
When spraying it on your body, I would still rub it into my skin. The first week I was here I forgot to do this which meant I was actually burning in patches – that was NOT cool!
This sun screen is an all-day sunscreen. Do not confuse this with a 24 hour sun screen (after copious research we actually found that 24 hour sun screen – no matter what the bottle says, does not exist!). This means you can go for about 8 to 10 hours without reapplying.
Wait – what?
You guys are using kids sun screen?
And with good reason. Kids sun screen is much more potent and much safer than adult sun screen. We use it all the time when going up for a swim in the pool or going to the beach.
When we buy sun screen we obviously want it to be water resistant. And however most adult sun screens are, I found (by accident) that kids sun screen actually lasts longer and works better than the adult version.
When I go up to the pool (we have a pool on the roof) for a swim, I often stay there for 2 hours – sometimes even more. I tend to listen to podcasts or music, enjoying the cool water in the hot sun. I want great protection when I am in the water and I did not have the feeling that demand was met by a cheap sun screen I bought in Belgium last summer. I also didn’t want to spray myself with all-day sun screen as the P20 is quite expensive.
I bought this Garnier Ambre Solaire SPF 30 Resisto Swim Kids in Boots as it was on sale. I am very happy with this sun screen – especially when I am looking to stay in the pool for quite a long time. It is very soft for my skin and although my skin is very sensitive, I do not break out nor does the formula itch.
I also use this sun screen on certain scars I have on my legs or back when I ran out of Zinc to cover the scars. I can really recommend this for both kids and adults when holidaying somewhere it is warm, the sun is harsh and they will be in the water a lot!
I don’t use normal sun screen on my face. I HATE sprayers! Not only can sprayers make you tan patchy, their smell can also give you a headache – especially when you spray it directly in your face.
Trust me on this one – I learnt it the hard way!
Anyway, on my little panic trip to the mall for sunscreen lotion I found this Sun Bum sun screen. Initially attracted by the name, I found that this moisturising sun screen delivered everything I was looking for at a remarkably good price.
In fact, I like the smell and the formula so much I often use it as a moisturiser. I also used Soltan Once suncare cream by boots, but had to gift my tube to a friend as my face did not react well to the formula. It stung and I had pimples all over my face as I have very delicate skin.
I might want to try their normal sun screen as well – but as I am happy with my current formula’s and I still have enough left, I might start doing this next year.
Rewind to the first week in Dubai. I was so excited to living in this new place. As we did not yet have internet access I was constantly soaking in the pool. Altough I lathered myself in sun screen – I forgot my lips.
And so my lips burnt.
IT WAS ABSOLUTE HELL! Stretching and flexing my lips hurt. Eating hurt. Talking hurt. Breathing hurt!
Luckily enough the worst was gone in a day or two. But ever since I always carry an SPF chapstick with me. First I decided to go with Ultrasun. I received one in a Birchbox back in the UK, but when it was ruined (I dropped it in the sand outside our apartment block), I decided to order some Sun Bum Chapstick.
These chap sticks come in many different flavours such as mango and key lime and are more or less the same price as a Chapstick from sun bum. So why not?
Getting a sun burn in Dubai is normal. Even in winter, when temperatures max out around 26 and locals and tourists alike don’t tend to bother as much with sun screen, people burn.
I have always been one of those people that is luckily enough not to burn easily. But when I do burn all hell breaks loose! It is so uncomfortable! From a young age I discovered the magnificence that is aftersun lotion and calming, moisturising body butter.
And trust me: it is not a luxury to invest in a good aftersun lotion when travelling to Dubai.
Obviously: when you used great sun screen products and you kept an eye on your skin and reapplied the sun screen after a couple of hours – you should be fine! But at the end of the day, your skin will be damaged from the sun anyway. In my case this means my skin gets dry the skin on my arms, hands, feet and face can pull a bit.
Yuk! I hate that feeling!
After a day I know I have been in the sun a lot, I usually lather myself in aftersun. My skin is very thirsty and most of the times the lotion just disappears into my skin within 10 seconds.
I have recently been using the Hawaiian aftersun body butter. I love body butters and I was looking for something that moisturises – and I just honestly love the smell of the Hawaiian products. They smell a bit like a Pina Colada – which happens to be one of my favourite cocktails.
Like I said: my skin is very thirsty after a day in the sun and I really feel this body butter both moisturises and soothes my skin.
I have been burnt twice since I moved to Dubai. Once because I was an idiot and I forgot to put sunscreen on my face. The other time because I used someone else’s sun screen which is a mist, and I had no idea I still had to rub it into my skin (I literally burnt in patches!).
Both times this aftersun really helped take the sting away and the burn bearable. Obviously it will always be a bit uncomfortable, but in my experience the hydration and the calming effect of the body butter made my burn go away in one to two days.