Summer Sizzlers including £5 paddling pools, £12 BBQs, Pimm's round-up and cheap fans

There's a glimmer of summer for most of us this week (and this year, we'll take any warm-ish, non-rainy weather we can get!). So, with an abundance of optimism, we've rounded up the hottest summer and outdoor offers. Scorching deals include 5* UVA sun cream from £2.50, £3 fans, cheap BBQs and more.

Sun cream, including 5* UVA from £2.50

In bright weather even in the UK you should be wearing sun cream. Staying safe needn’t cost the earth though. If you’re willing to ditch the brands you know, you could downshift and save with sun cream from £2.50 without giving up five star UVA protection.

It sounds too good to be true, yet we've found a number of products available for around £3-£4.50 rather than the usual £5.50-£7 branded products will set you back. You can find the cheap sun cream below, after the important safety info. For more information, check out MSE Rhiannon's suncream downshifting blog.

Are they safe?

We've been in touch with the British Skin Foundation (BSF) charity and the Cosmetic Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA) trade body. Both say people shouldn't be put off by low prices, as long as they check packaging for the UVA and SPF number.

The BSF says: "When choosing a sunscreen look for a high protection SPF (SPF 30 or more) to protect against UVB, and the UVA circle logo and/or 4 or 5 UVA stars to protect against UVA."

The UVA rating

This tells you how much protection the product is giving you from harmful long-wave ultra-violet UVA rays. Some bottles have a star rating (the BSF recommends four or more stars) – while others don't, they should at least contain a circle with the letters UVA inside, as this indicates the minimum level of UVA protection. Here are the logos you should be looking for...

The SPF number

This stands for sun protection factor. The higher the number, the greater the level of protection against harmful medium-wave ultra-violet UVB rays. The label should also tell you whether the product provides "low", "medium", "high" or "very high" protection against UVB. See the CTPA's section on sun protection for more info.

You might be a bit sceptical about cheaper sun cream, we always are too, but we’re trusting that these big companies have done their own independent checks to ensure these sun creams are fully tested and are legit.

Important. As with any product, if you have sensitive skin it’s important to do a patch test before using any new skin care or hair care product and sun cream is no exception.

Note: Some sun creams can contain chemicals that hurt coral reefs and a few island countries ban them, so if you want to protect the environment and avoid them, watch out for ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. You can see the full list of 10 chemicals on the International Coral Reef Initiative's website.

  • Don't automatically chuck old sun creams away – check how long they last

    How long will it last?

    The period after opening (PAO) number should also be included on the bottle. This will be displayed as an 'open jar' symbol with a number inside indicating how many months the product will be safe for after opening, providing it is stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

    Most of the cheap sun creams we found are good to use for at least 12 months from the date of opening, so don't throw away your excess sun cream, check the PAO as it's likely you can use it again the next time you need it.

Own-brand sun cream for less than £2.50

At MSE we're always trying to get you to think about downshifting, so we've had a look for the cheapest own-branded sun creams on offer, all under a fiver. 

Retailer/product Price UVA rating
Aldi* - Lacura sun lotion SPF 30, 200ml £2.49
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Asda* - Protect SPF 30, 200ml £2.80
(on sale, normally £3)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tesco* - Soleil sun lotion SPF 30, 200ml £2.80 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Superdrug - Solait SPF 30, 200ml £3.59 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Boots* - Soltan SPF 30, 200ml £3.89 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Morrisons* - Sun lotion SPF 30, 200ml  £4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sainsbury's - Sun protect SPF50, 200ml
£4.50
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Prices checked on Friday 25 August

Other low-cost branded sun creams

For those who just can't ditch a brand they know and trust, we've also compiled a list of the cheapest prices we found on some of the most popular products.

It's worth remembering that sprays and special formulations (eg, clear/coloured/sensitive) usually cost more, so check to see if your chosen cream could be cheaper in a different bottle.

Product Price Next cheapest
Piz Buin moisturising lotion SPF 50, 200ml £5.79 at Savers £5.99 at B&M
Nivea Sun protection lotion SPF 30, 200ml £5.49 at Bodycare £5.99 at B&M
Garnier Ambre Solaire ultra-hydrating sun cream SPF 30, 200ml £4.99 at B&M and Superdrug £5 at Asda* and Boots*
Garnier Ambre Solaire kids moisturising spray SPF 50, 200ml  £4.99 at B&M £5 at Boots*
Hawaiian Tropic silk hydration sun lotion SPF 30, 180ml £6.80 at Sainsburys £7 at Asda*
Prices checked on Friday 25 August

Cheap electric fans, from £3

As soon as a heatwave hits, we start seeing fans flying off the shelves. While it may not be necessary this year, pop one away for future summers if you can get your hands on one of the offers below. If you're wondering how much it costs to run an electric fan, see our Energy mythbusting guide where we've done the maths on this. 

Here's our round-up of the four main types of fan...

Mini desk fans (4in)

These small fans are a good size to sit on your desk or table. They're usually powered by USB. Here's our round-up of the best prices from big retailers:

Retailer Price
Dunelm £2.50 (currently on sale, normally £5)
Home Bargains £2.99 (currently out of stock online)
The Range* £4.99
Asda* £5
Wickes* £6 (in-store only)

Small desk fans (6-7in)

These small fans are a good size to sit on your desk or table. They're usually powered by USB. In 2020 we saw B&M sell these cheapest for £7.99, with the most expensive being around £10. However, we've not spotted any that cheap yet this year. Here's our round-up of the best prices from big retailers:

Retailer Price
Amazon* (7in) £7.99
Currys* (6in)
£9.99
The Range* (6in) £10.99
Argos (7in)  £12 (currently on sale, normally £15)

Medium desk fans (11-12in)

This is probably one of the most common size fans, but also probably the ones that sell out the quickest. On the whole however, prices have gone up on previous years: 

Retailer Price
Dunelm £10 (currently on sale, normally £20)
Screwfix £14.99
Tool Station £16.49
Wickes* £17

Large pedestal/standing fans (16in)

In 2020, we saw Home Bargains selling the cheapest pedestal fan for £14.99, and this year it's cheapest again at £16.99. Generally, prices are more expensive this year than they have been previously.

 

Retailer Price
Screwfix £20.99
Argos £21  (currently on sale, normally £30)
Wickes* £22
Asda* £25

Tower fans (32in)

Tower fans have become popular in the last few years, as they're more space saving and more exact with their breeze, so we've included them in our round up. 

Retailer Price
Dunelm  £15 (currently on sale, normally £30)
Amazon* £22.99
Asda* £28 (in-store only)
Wickes* £32

Cheap paddling pools

Always popular with the kids (even if it's not that warm) grab one for the summer bank holiday weekend, and you'll have stolen a march on next summer too. We've rounded up the cheapest paddling pools we could find on Tuesday 22 August – although we haven't included delivery costs, so remember to factor these in.

Small paddling pools

These paddling pools are the typical three-ring, circular pools, usually about 3ft-4ft wide and can only fit one or two small children at a time (or a dog).

Retailer Price
B&Q* 4ft
£5
Argos 3ft
£8

Medium-sized paddling pools

These paddling pools are about 7ft in length, hold 400-450 litres of water and can fit two or three small children, or a couple of adults.

Retailer Price
Argos 7ft £16 (was £25)
The Range 6.5ft £17.49 (was £21.41)
Asda* 7ft  £20

Family-sized paddling pools

These paddling pools are 10ft in length and can be found in rectangular or circular shapes. You could fit two adults and two children in these pools.

Retailer Price
B&Q* 10ft £29.99
Asda* 10ft £30
The Range 10ft £30.99

Cheap BBQ deals

We've also rounded up the cheapest barbecue deals we could find, including BBQs from £5 and 5kg bags of charcoal from £5.

Portable reusable barbecues from £12

These barbecues are usually about 13 inches in diameter and are good for transporting around if you'd like to barbecue outside of your garden, such as camping. Alternatively, if you don't barbecue a lot, these can be an alternative to disposable barbecues they're easier to store or move than a standard-sized barbecue. Here are a few we've spotted:

Retailer Price
Asda* £12
The Range £12.75
Argos
£20

Standard-sized charcoal reusable barbecues from £19.50

These are your standard, around 16 to 17-inch kettle-style charcoal barbecues, which should do the job if you're cooking for a family of four. These can vary a lot in price, but here are a few of the cheapest ones we've spotted:

Retailer Price
The Range £20.95
Millets £28 (normally £60)
Blacks £28 (normally £60)

5kg charcoal  from £7

The hottest deals we found on 5kg bags of charcoal, which are sure to get you sizzling, include:

Retailer Price
B&Q*  £7
Argos  £7.50

Instant lighting charcoal bags

If you don't want family members barbe-queuing up for a sausage whilst you're still trying to light the grill, then you might want to opt for the easier option of instant lighting charcoal bags. We checked the prices at these retailers:

Retailer Price
Sainsbury's £6 for 2kg
Tesco*
£3.50 for 1kg (currently out of stock online)
The Range* £7.99 for 4kg

BBQ Essentials

Now you've got your cheap BBQ...what are you grilling on it?

 

Cheapest beef burgers (four) 

Retailer Price
Tesco* £1.75
Morrisons* £1.75
Asda* £1.75
Sainsbury's £1.90 (for 8)
Lidl £2.59
Waitrose* £2.90

 Cheapest sausages (eight)

Retailer Price
Tesco* £1.50
Asda* £1.50
Sainsbury's £1.50
Co-op* £1.50
Morrisons* £1.60
Aldi £1.89
Waitrose* £2
M&S (via Ocado) £2.10

Wine deals

Supermarkets running 'buy 6 bottles save 25%'

Whether you're celebrating the Bank Holiday weekend or not, now could be a good time to top up on your favourite bottle. Please remember to be Drinkaware.

 

 

Retailer Cheapest bottle on offer
Morrisons* £4.75
Asda* £4.99
Waitrose* £5
Tesco* £5.50 (England) £7 (Wales and NI)
Sainsburys* £6 (England) £7 (Wales)

Supermarkets' cheapest prosecco

Retailer Price
Aldi £5.75
Asda* £5.75
Tesco* £5.75
Sainsburys £6
Lidl £6.25
Morrisons* £7 (on sale, normally £8.50)
Waitrose* £7.99
M&S £8.50
Co-op* £9

Pimm's deals

Pimm's is often seen as the drink of the summer, and can often be found on sale at the supermarkets over the summer. As well as the branded version, many supermarkets also have their own version to try and beat the brand on taste and price. Whichever you prefer, here's the best prices we found on Tuesday 22 August.

Please remember to be Drinkaware.

 

1L Pimm's

Retailer Price
Morrisons* £15
Amazon* £15
Asda* £15 (normally £21)
Sainsburys £15 (with Nectar card, otherwise £22)
Tesco* £15 (with Clubcard, otherwise £22)

Own brand version 70cl

Retailer Price
Aldi - Austin's Classic Summer Punch £6.79
Asda* - The Great Summer Cup £8.50
Tesco* - Summer Cup £8.75

Cheap Days Out

  • If you register with Days Out Guide and buy a National Rail ticket, you can get 2for1 entry to 250+ UK attractions, including Thorpe Park, Kew Gardens, Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers and Legoland Windsor (see the full attractions list). You must pre-book the attraction tickets online – though confusingly, the 2for1 is only valid on full-price tickets, so you can't get 2for1 on the usually-cheaper 'advance' price.

    How to get 2for1

    • Choose which attraction you want to visit at the Days Out Guide website and you'll be given a 2for1 code.
    • Go via Days Out Guide to the attraction's own website and use the code to book two full-price tickets online.
    • On arrival at the attraction, you'll need to present your tickets alongside a valid train ticket (one for the station nearest the attraction) dated for the same day. Only one discount voucher may be used per two people. You must print your ticket – those shown on a phone will not be accepted. 

    If you don't present a valid train ticket at the attraction on the day, you'll be required to purchase your second ticket on the gate.

    Check if booking online without this deal is cheaper

    The 2for1 is based on the 'on the day' gate price (despite needing to book online), and these can be over-inflated at some attractions compared to the online advance price, which can be much cheaper at some venues – so always compare prices first.

    We've picked out a few of the top attractions and compared the total cost of getting 2for1 tickets via this deal and the total price of simply booking in advance.

    Attraction  Total 2for1 price with this offer Total advance price for 2 adults booking normally
    Alton Towers £68 £72
    Thorpe Park £64 £66
    Chessington £64 £66
    Legoland Windsor £66 £68
    Kew Gardens £17 £34
    Warwick Castle £39 £52
    St Paul's Cathedral £23 £41


    While for some the 2for1 saves a decent amount, for other attractions it's the same or very close to the advance price – and of course you need to factor in the cost of train tickets, to decide whether this deal is worth it or not.

    What if I live near the attraction/am travelling by other means?

    If you're not travelling by train but this deal would still work out cheaper for you, you can buy a cheap single ticket (usually for a couple of quid) to the nearest station to your attraction – just get a train ticket from the next station along.

    Other need-to-knows

    • You can visit multiple attractions on the same day that your rail ticket is valid, so if you're travelling to 'London Terminals', you can go to several attractions in London on the same day.
    • Electronic ticket barriers can sometimes retain your ticket (especially if it's a single), so to make sure you don't lose your proof of travel, ask a member of the station staff at a manned gate to help you through.
    • Excludes Oyster cards, Freedom Passes, DLR, bus, Eurostar, Heathrow Express and tickets and travelcards bought from London Underground.
    • This deal can't be used with other offers or promotions. However, Railcard-discounted National Rail tickets are valid for the offer.

    Visit the full Days Out Guide terms and conditions for more.

    See all deals: National Rail (3 deals)
  • Convert Tesco Clubcard points into Tesco Reward Partners vouchers* and on many attractions you get two-times the vouchers' face value to use on tickets, for example £5 in points converts into £10-worth of vouchers. They can be used at theme parks, wildlife parks and more.

    Here are some of the theme parks you can select:

    Alton Towers
    Blackpool Pleasure Beach
    Chessington
    Drayton Manor
    Legoland
    Thorpe Park

     

    And some of the other attractions:

    Eden Project
    Blackpool Zoo
    Longleat Safari
    National Sea Life, Birmingham
    Sea Life, Blackpool

    For how to fully maximise Clubcard points, see the Boost Tesco Clubcard guide.

    See all deals: Tesco Clubcard (9 deals)