We all know to slip, slop, slap before heading outside. However, sunscreen jargon can make it difficult to pick the right one. To coincide with National Skin Cancer Action Week (November 20-26), we asked Cancer Council Australia Skin Cancer Committee chair Craig Sinclair to give us the lowdown..
#1 UV Rays
‘UVB radiation affects the top layers while UVA rays are primarily responsible for skin wrinkling and roughening,’ explains Craig. ‘Both contribute to skin damage and skin cancer.’ The primary role of sunscreen is to protect against UV rays.
#2 Physical VS Chemical
‘Physical blockers reflect UV, whereas chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation,’ Craig says. ‘Physical and chemical sunscreens offer effective sun protection. Many sunscreens use a combination of both.’
#3 SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor
‘SPF refers to the amount of UVB radiation that a sunscreen protects against,’ Craig says. The Cancer Council recommends using SPF 30 as a minimum because it protects against 96.7 per cent of UVB. SPF 50 has a higher UVB protection rate of 98 per cent – however, this doesn’t mean you can stay in the sun longer.
The plethora of sunscreen types can make it difficult to know which one is right. Craig says a good starting point is to choose ‘an SPF 30 (or higher), broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen’. With creams, roll-ons and sprays, Craig recommends using what feels most comfortable.
#5 Get It On
Don’t be stingy when applying sunscreen! ‘Apply one teaspoon of sunscreen for each arm and leg, one teaspoon to both the front and back of your torso and one teaspoon to your face, neck and ears,’ Craig advises. Re-application is recommended ‘every two hours when outdoors or more often if you’re sweating or swimming’.
#6 SPF Beauty
Some make-up products boast the addition of SPF, however Craig cautions this isn’t the same as a straight-up sunscreen. ‘An SPF in your foundation is unlikely to have broad-spectrum properties or offer as high an SPF as a sunscreen.’ The bottom line? Always apply a normal sunscreen before layering on SPF-infused make-up.
#7 Anti-Ageing Miracle
Sun damage is a contributor to the presence of ageing signs such as pigmentation, dehydration, wrinkles and dullness. From an aesthetic perspective, sunscreen is an anti-ageing powerhouse. It protects from cellular damage – look for a hydrating formula, which will plump up the skin.
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