Five top tips to ensure you're correctly protected
CANCER Council Queensland's five tips for choosing sunscreen will help to reduce confusion over which product to buy, when to use it, and how to apply it.
KNOW YOUR RISK
More than 11,000 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma each year and hundreds of thousands of non-melanoma skin cancers are treated.
Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes, even on cold and overcast days when the UV is high.
Sun protection is required when the UV Index level is three or above in Australia.
KNOW THE NUMBERS AND LINGO
Use sunscreens that are broad-spectrum (offering both UVA and UVB protection), water-resistant and SPF30+ 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 categorized with an SPF based on stringent laboratory testing. SPF50+ filters out 98 per cent of UVB radiation compared to 96.7 per cent when using SPF 30+ sunscreen.
Some people mistakenly believe an SPF20 moisturiser and an SPF10 foundation used together equal SPF30 protection. Not so, you will only be protected to the level of the highest SPF product.
LEARN TO APPLY IT PROPERLY
Whether using SPF30 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.
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.
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 at cancer.org.au/SunSmartApp.
For more details go to www.cancerqld.org.au or phone 13 11 20.