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With the sun shining and kids and adults alike thinking of their next day off, we've rounded up the hottest summer and outdoors offers. Scorching deals include £1 BBQs, £1 sun cream and free outdoor activities.

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Sun cream

  • In warmer 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 £2.39 WITHOUT giving up 5* UVA protection.

    It sounds too good to be true, yet we've found a number of products available for £2.29-£5 rather than the usual £6-£12 branded products'll set you back. We've contacted skincare experts to find out how safe the lotions are.

    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 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. See images below for 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.
       

    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."

    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 13 ingredients to avoid on the not-for-profit Haereticus Lab website.

    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 (see example below). 

    Don't automatically chuck old sun creams away

    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 £5

    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:

    • Aldi Lacura extra sensitive sun lotion SPF50+, 200ml - £2.29 in store and online at Aldi. Five-star UVA rated.
    • Lidl Cien sun lotion SPF 30, 250ml - £2.39 in store at Lidl.
    • Asda Protect SPF 30, 200ml - £2.39 at Asda. Five-star UVA rated.
    • Wilko Suncare SPF 50, 200ml - £3.50 at Wilko*. Five-star UVA rated.
    • Boots Soltan kids SPF 50, 200ml - £4 at Boots*. Five-star UVA rated.
    • Superdrug Solait SPF 30, 200ml - £4.99 at Superdrug. Five-star UVA rated.
       

    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 we've found some of the most popular products. When they are cheap, we found quite often prices elsewhere are only a few pence more.

    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.

    • Garnier Ambre Solaire protection lotion SPF 50, 200ml - £5 at Boots* and Tesco* (next cheapest we found, £8 at Asda).
    • Garnier Ambre Solaire ultra-hydrating sun cream SPF 30, 200ml - £5 at Boots* and Tesco* (next cheapest we found, £8 at Asda).
    • Nivea Sun kids moisturising sun spray SPF 30, 200ml - £5 at Asda and Tesco* (next cheapest we found, £6 at Boots).
    • Piz Buin allergy sun-sensitive skin spray SPF 30, 200ml - £3.99 at B&M Bargains (next cheapest we found, £7.99 at Superdrug).
    • Nivea Sun moisturising kids sun lotion SPF 50, 200ml - £5 at Asda and Tesco* (next cheapest we found, £6 at Boots).
       

    £1 sun creams

    We've not been able to get out and do the checks we'd normally do to find £1 sun creams, so the below might be slightly different to what you can find - so make sure you do the checks above. It's also worth noting these bottles are slightly smaller (40ml-120ml) than some of the better-known brands (norm 200ml). They may not be brands that you recognise, but all have the UVA rating symbol to indicate they meet at least the minimum level of UVA protection.

    Poundland (find your nearest)

    It stocks a range from a brand called Anovia Tropical Sun, which should be available in its 400+ stores for £1.

    Savers (find your nearest)

    It stocks a range from a brand called EAD sunscreen, which should be available in its 230+ stores at £1, or £1.99 for a slightly larger bottle.

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