We know that regular application of
sunscreen is a key tool in your sun safety kit — but with so many brands and
varieties available, how do you know which one is right for you and your
Cancer Council advises that everyone should be wearing sunscreen on days that
have a UV index of 3 or above. For many
Australia cities, that’s up to three quarters of the year.
We know that putting on sunscreen
should be a part of your morning routine on most days of the year. But don’t
just grab the first bottle you spot on the shelf: when you’re choosing a
sunscreen, there are a number of factors to consider to determine which option
is best for you.
Here’s how to choose the right
sunscreen for you:
There are two different types of UV
rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate further into the skin are responsible for the
visible signs of premature ageing, such as wrinkles. UVB rays are the ones that
cause sunburn. Both UVA and UVB rays contribute to increased skin cancer risk,
so it’s important to choose a sunscreen that protects against both.
That’s where ‘Broad Spectrum’ comes
in. This term simply describes a sunscreen that filters both UVA and UVB rays.
Make sure that whichever sunscreen you’re buying is marked ‘Broad Spectrum’.
The SPF in products can vary
greatly, from foundations with SPF15 to sunscreens with SPF50 .
The highest rating in Australia is
SPF50 , and this is the best protection that you can offer yourself with
sunscreen. SPF50 sunscreens filter out 98% of UVB radiation, making them the safest and best choice in
Another point to think about is
what you’ll be doing throughout your day. This is important because if you’re
sweating or in the water, your sunscreen may come off and you’ll need to apply
it more regularly.
If you’re very active, you may wish
to consider buying a sunscreen that’s specifically formulated for sport. These sunscreens are resistant against things like sand and sweat and are
water-resistant for up to four hours (although you might want to apply it more
regularly to be on the safe side).
The best application method is the
one that you’re most likely to use.
For example, if you spend most of
your day indoors and are most concerned by sun exposure to your face, a formula with a tint may provide extra incentive for you to use it.
Some people find a roll-on or stick sunscreen particularly easy to apply, while others
dislike the feel of a cream sunscreen on their skin, and prefer a clear-mist formula.
No matter which application method
you use, remember to apply it liberally in any areas that are likely to be
exposed to the sun throughout your day and reapply regularly.
your skin type
Anything you apply to your skin
should be appropriate for your skin type, and that includes sunscreen.
For children’s skin, it’s best to
choose a formula that’s made for young, sensitive skin and is preferably
pediatrician tested, with a high SPF.
Sensitive skin types tend to find
fragrances and additives irritating. Choose a product developed for sensitive skin that’s fragrance-free and gentle enough to
not cause irritation, while still offering sun protection.
For people concerned about
premature ageing, there are a number of sunscreens on the market that offer sun protection while
helping to reduce the appearance of visible signs of ageing, through the use of
ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids (or AHAs).
Oily or acne-prone skin types may
wish to avoid creamy or heavy sunscreens and instead choose a clear gel or mist that’s less likely to block pores and exacerbate breakouts.
On the other hand, people with dry
skin tend to gravitate towards formulas that help to replenish moisture levels in the skin and protect against
you buy enough
So you’ve found a sunscreen that
works for you — but how do you know which size to get?
With sunscreen, bigger is generally
better as you want to have plenty of sunscreen available. If you’re buying a
bottle for your home, choose a large one that will not only last longer but may
also save you money.
However, if you’re travelling or
on-the-go, you may wish to choose a smaller bottle that’s more portable.
Just remember, a full-body
application of sunscreen for an adult should be at least 35ml or 7 teaspoons, so while a 75ml bottle may save space in
your handbag, it may only cover you for two applications. These smaller
containers are generally better to use to ‘top-up’ your sunscreen application,
rather than relying on them to protect you at the beach or pool.
And check the expiry date - and the storage
That old bottle of sunscreen that
has been in the glove box for two summers is likely out-of-date. And storage in
extreme temperatures further causes loss of effectiveness. Maybe it’s time for
a refresh of the family’s sunscreen!