2019 has arrived and summer is well and truly here – and for many of us that means days at the beach, picnics in the park and kids enjoying the great outdoors. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world though. so the summertime drill of slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat has never been more important.
Cool cotton works best to cover up, a wide brimmed hat will keep the sun off your face, and if you or the kids are heading into the water a rashie offers the best protection. Of course sunscreen is the ultimate Aussie summer accessory, but not all sunscreens are created equal, so if you’ve ever wondered what you should use and how much of it, we’ve got all of the answers!
What is a sunscreen?
A sunscreen is a product that combines a number of ingredients that protect your skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. To be a bit technical about it, there are two types of harmful ultraviolet radiation – long wave UVA, and short wave UVB.
UVB is the main offender responsible for sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are the silent producer of wrinkles, sagging skin and pigmentation. Broad-spectrum sunscreens offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
There are two types of sunscreen available – physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens are made from minerals such as zinc oxide, which reflect the sun’s rays and provide you with a physical shield against the sun. These sunscreens take effect as soon as they are applied but rinse and sweat off fairly easily, so will usually need to be reapplied more frequently.
Chemical sunscreens on the other hand contain organic carbon-based compounds and work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. These sunscreens take around 20 minutes after application before they start to work, and they tend to be thinner than physical sunscreens so spread more easily onto the skin.
How important is SPF?
SPF stands for sun protection factor and it refers to the length of time it takes for your skin to burn when you’re in the sun (assuming you have actually slopped some of it on of course).
According to the Skin & Cancer Foundation, no sunscreen will block 100% of UV rays, so it’s important not to spend too much time in the sun, even if you are wearing sunscreen. Sunscreens usually come in SPF 15, 30 and 50, and the higher the number, the longer the protection. As an example, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will protect your skin from getting red for about 15 times longer than usual – so if you usually start to burn after 10 minutes in the sun, your SPF 15 will prevent you from burning for 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes).
A word of warning though – since most of us don’t actually use enough sunscreen and because it tends to wear off over time, it’s recommended you reapply your sunscreen every two hours, regardless of strength.
How much should I apply?
Sunsmart advises that sunscreen should be the last line of defence after clothing, a hat, shade and sunglasses, and that when the sun is out you should apply SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen to any skin that’s not covered by clothing. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before heading outside - aim for around 1 teaspoon of product for:
That’s around 35ml for one full body application or about a third of a 100ml tube.
How’s your summer shaping up?
If you’re thinking of heading off for a summer holiday but your finances are holding you back, we’re here to help. Just check out our flexible mini-loans to $5K to find out how quick and easy it is to get your hands on some extra funds. Once a loan is approved, we can usually deposit the cash into your bank account within a few hours - so you can start planning your summer holiday today!