Sunscreen – we all use it every day, or at least we should do, especially while living in Queensland!
Unfortunately, a wide range of choices and confusing labels can turn a walk down the sunscreen aisle into a dizzying experience. Oil-free, water-resistant, dry-touch, insect-repelling, SPF 15+, SPF 30+, SPF 50+… the list goes on.
So how do you know what product is right for you, and how and when to apply it for the best protection?
Here are five key points to help demystify the differences between sunscreens.
1. Know your risk.
Queensland is the skin cancer capital of the world – more than 3600 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year. Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes, even on cold and overcast days, and sun protection is required when the UV Index level is three or above – in the Sunshine State, that means all seasons, all year.
2. Know the lingo and numbers.
Cancer Council Queensland recommends the use of sunscreens that are broad-spectrum (offering both UVA and UVB protection), water-resistant and SPF 30+ or above. SPF stands for sun protection factor and the accompanying number stands for the theoretical amount of time you can stay in the sun with sunscreen, as opposed to without.
A sunscreen is categorised with an SPF based on stringent laboratory testing. SPF 50+ filters out 98 per cent of UVB radiation compared to 96.7 per cent when using SPF 30+ sunscreen. Also, you can’t add numbers together. Some people mistakenly believe an SPF 20 moisturiser and an SPF 10 foundation used together equal SPF 30 protection. Not so! You will only be protected to the level of the highest SPF product.
3. Learn how to apply it properly.
Whether using SPF 30 or higher, application is the key. Most people don’t put on enough sunscreen, resulting in coverage equivalent to only 50 or 80 per cent of the product’s potential protection factor. You should apply sunscreen liberally - at least one teaspoon for each limb, front and back of the torso, and face (including neck and ears).
A uniform coverage of sunscreen at a greater thickness, applied to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before you go outside will give you the best protection. It’s also imperative to reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming, exercising, or towel-drying. 4. Use more than one method of protection.
4. Use more than one method of protection.
Sunscreen, although a proven method to prevent skin cancer, shouldn’t be used as the first and last defence against the sun. Don’t forget the other “S"s – Slip on a shirt, Slap on a hat, Seek some shade and Slide on your sunnies.
5. Get app-happy for more information.
Cancer Council’s SunSmart app allows you to track UV levels in real time wherever you are around Australia, with advice on applying sunscreen and myth-busting info on vitamin D. The SunSmart app is available in app stores for free, or online .
If you are looking for a brand you can rely on, Cancer Council sunscreen was voted Australia’s Most Trusted Sunscreen Brand in the 2016 Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands survey.
Follow these five tips and have fun while staying safe in the sun this summer!
More information about Cancer Council Queensland and staying SunSmart is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.