Over summer I found that there were huge discussions on social media on sunscreen. The two main goal of sunscreen is to prevent sunburn (which is a proven cause of skin cancer) and to protect the skin from photo-ageing. Yes, it helps slow down premature ageing!  Social media sites showed adults and children getting burnt with sunscreen on.  How can this be?

Sunscreens either absorb or reflect the sun’s UV rays. Sunscreens that absorb are called chemical sunscreens and sunscreens that reflect are called physical sunscreens.

So, what’s the difference and which one is better?

Chemical Sunscreens – This sunscreen works by absorbing UV radiation using chemicals that have been added to it. It takes 20 minutes before your skin is protected and is invisible once rubbed in. This type of sunscreen is more easily accessible and easier to apply.

Physical Sunscreens – This sunscreen uses mineral filters to reflect the UV rays. It works straight away. The main active ingredients are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. I know what your thinking now,  ‘Zinc is thick and does not move’. In fact, this type of new sunscreen is available in micronized forms that are near invisible improving ease of application. Physical sunscreen are less likely to cause irritation.

What does broad spectrum mean? UVA penetrates deeply in the skins cells causing long term damage. UVB penetrates to the skins surface causing burning and skin damage possibly leading to skin cancer. When a sunscreen says broad spectrum it means it filters out both UVA and UVB radiation.

 How much sunscreen should I be applying?

This may sound silly but now I am going to advise how sunscreen should be applied. This is part of the reason why I think some people still get burnt. Have you been appling enough?

  • Always follow directions on the product
  • Apply a generous amount to the exposed areas ( this is why I am not a fan of the sunscreens that have a spray trigger and it comes out in a mist)
  • Reapply after swimming/sweating or drying off with a towel
  • Or if outside for long periods, apply every 2 hours

5 Fast Facts

  • Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancers in the world
  • Cover up when possible with a hat, long sleeve top and sunglasses.
  • Take the time to pick a high quality high SPF sunscreen. In Australia I would recommend at least a 30+ broad spectrum
  • Avoid peak hours of sun exposure usually in the middle of the day
  • Check expiry dates and throw out after two years

Please leave a comment if you have any questions and tell me what your favourite sunscreen is ?

For further information about regulation requirements for sunscreen in Australia click on this link.

Or for more information on being sun smart please click on this link  or download the Sun Smart free app which gives you a UV rating in your area and allows you to set reminders to reapply.


4 thoughts on “What everybody needs to know about sunscreen!

  1. I fight, all summer, with my boys over why they aren’t using the spray on sunscreen. Glad to hear I’m not the only one that doesn’t trust it!!


    1. Hi Kelly, I can see the attraction for children wanting to use the spray on sunscreen. It is just really hard to tell how much sunscreen is actually going on the skin. For full protection a liberal amount needs to be applied.
      Thanks, Sonia


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