By now you should have received the message LOUD AND CLEAR that you’d have to be a complete twit not to wear sunscreen. Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, a stat which is not only tragic, but often avoidable.
But with so many products out there, we totally understand that it can be hard to know which one to use and when. So, to help you in your quest for the ultimate in sun protection, we’ve decided to sort the fact from the fiction, debunk a few of the more common myths, and help you choose the right sunscreen to suit your busy lifestyle. Here’s how to slip, slop, slap your way through summer and beyond.
It’s Not Sunny/ It’s Cold. Therefore, I Don’t Need Sunscreen.
Incorrect. Sunburn is caused by UV radiation, which occurs regardless of temperature. And yes, you can still get burnt when it’s cloudy. UV radiation can penetrate clouds and, this is the scary part, may be even more intense, due to the reflection from the bottom of the clouds.
UVA vs UVB
Think UVA for ageing, UVB for burning. Simple. Well kind of. Sunscreens all offer different levels of protection from the two types of UV radiation, but you really need one that defends well against both. In addition to giving you wrinkles, UVA rays are believed to exacerbate the cancer-causing effect of UVB rays. Did I mention you’d be a twit not to wear sunscreen?
What Does Broad Spectrum Mean?
When choosing a sunscreen, these two little words are key. A broad spectrum product will protect you from both types of rays. Going for broad spectrum protection is just as important, possibly more, than upping the SPF.
The Higher the SPF the Better, Right?
Wellll… kinda. SPF obviously refers to the sun protection factor of a product. Specifically, it refers to how well it deflects UVB rays (the burny ones, remember?). Here’s how it works. If you would burn in five minutes with no sun protection (that’d be me), wearing SPF15 means it should protect you for 15 times that length of time. So one hour, fifteen minutes.
It is generally advised everyone should be using an SPF of 15 or higher. But using an SPF30 does not, as some might believe, mean it provides double the amount of protection, or is effective twice as long. While an SPF 15 filters out around 93 percent of UVB rays, 30 filters out 97 percent, and 50 takes care of 98 percent.
Is a Foundation or Moisturiser Containing SPF Enough?
If you’re just running out for a small amount of time, this should be fine. It is, however, not enough protection if you’ll be outside a lot, at the beach, or playing sport. If so, sunscreen should be applied every two hours. If you’ll be outside for much of the day, you should apply a sunscreen under your moisturiser or foundation, even if that contains an SPF too.
Chemical, Physical, Mineral – What’s the Difference?
Different sunscreens provide protection in different ways. Most typical sunscreens use chemical ingredients to absorb UV rays (the majority only absorb, but some can deflect rays). Some research indicates the popular chemicals used may disrupt hormones, and some can create free radical damage.
Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, contain naturally broad-spectrum mineral ingredients – zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide – and work by scattering UV rays, rather than absorbing them.
Physical sunscreens work immediately once you apply, while chemical sunscreens take approximately 20-minutes until they are effective. On the flip side, physical sunscreens rub off more easily, and are typically thicker and harder to apply. While considered suitable for sensitive skins, products containing titanium oxide can cause break outs for some people.
So they both have pros and cons.
How Often Should I Reapply?
As a general rule of thumb, every two hours. But this will depend on the type of sunscreen and if you’re playing sport or in water. Look for water-resistant products if you’ll be at the beach.