Australia is a sunburnt country, with one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world. Add to that the pain factor, lobster-red hue and ugly peeling caused by a sunburn and it’s no wonder we need to slip slop slap!
To have fun in the sun without the fall out, here are nine essential sunburn hacks you need this summer!
#1 – Go broad spectrum to avoid wrinkles
Fun fact: ultraviolet radiation consists of both UVA and UVB rays, but the SPF factor of a sunscreen only measures its ability to filter UVB rays. These are the sun’s rays responsible for burning and skin cancers. But UVA rays are also super damaging, and are the major cause of premature ageing (or in other words, wrinkles and sun spots).
So, if you want to keep your skin youthful AND sunburn free, you need to choose a product marked as broad spectrum. This means it filters out both A and B rays.
#2 – Choose a sunscreen for YOUR skin type
Having oily or sensitive skin is not an excuse to skip the sunscreen, as brands like Cetaphil now make formulas to suit all skin types.Their adult Suntivity range includes a broad spectrum (tick!) SPF50+ Ultra-Light Lotion, which is oil-free and quickly absorbed, and is a saviour for spot-prone skins. For normal to dry and sensitive skins, the SPF50+ Liposomal Lotion offers top notch broad spectrum protection in a lightweight, hypoallergenic formula that spreads and absorbs like a dream. So no excuses!
#3 – Track the UV Index with an app
Unfortunately, you can’t read UV levels just by looking out the window. In fact, grey and overcast days are sometimes the deadliest! The Cancer Council advises taking sun protection measures–seeking shade, wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and other sun protective clothing–when the UV level is 3 or above.
Thankfully, it’s super easy to track the UV Index on the BOM website, or even download a handy app.
#4 – Don’t skimp! (You’re probably using too little)
Chances are you’re not even applying your sunscreen right. The Cancer Council advises a liberal application of “at least a teaspoon for each limb, front and back of the body, and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears.” Using less? Then you’re significantly reducing the stated SPF of the product! And for maximum efficacy, you should be applying sunscreen 20 minutes before leaving the house.
#5 – School yourself on what SPF actually means
So, you already know SPF (sun protection factor) refers to a product’s ability to filter out those red-inducing UVB rays. But what’s the diff between an SPF of 30 and 50? The biggest misunderstanding is that SPF’s a measure of how long you can stay in the sun. Using an SPF50 does not mean you should be able to spend almost twice as long on the beach! Rather, an SPF 30+ sunscreen filters out 96.7% of UVB radiation, while SPF 50+ sunscreen filters out 98%.
#6 – And remember to reapply!
The rule of thumb with sunscreen? Always reapply after swimming, sport, excessive sweating, or towelling your body. And no matter the SPF, you should reapply every two hours.
#7 – Jump straight into a cold shower to dial down a sunburn
We get it, sometimes accidents do happen. If you suspect you have a bad burn brewing, head straight to the bathroom. A cold shower will help cool the skin and can reduce the severity of your burn. Skip drying soaps and be careful when towelling the skin. Air dry if possible. (Later on, you might want to apply cool compresses, like ice blocks in a damp towel, to the angry skin to ease discomfort.)
#8 – Apply an after-sun lotion or gel to damp skin
To minimise peeling and reduce discomfort, apply an after sun product following your shower. Applying it while the skin is still damp helps to prevent further moisture loss (a burn is really drying to the skin). Try a cooling, alcohol-free gel like Suntivity After Sun Gel, which soothes and hydrates angry skin. Or the Repair Liposomal Lotion, which nourishes the skin with Vitamin E, panthenol and glycerin, while speeding up the body’s natural repair process.
#9 – Drink plenty of water!
If you’re not keeping your H20 levels up, sunburn can lead to dehydration. So sip on water, or electrolyte-rich coconut water in the days following.