How Does Sunscreen Work?
Sunscreen works by protecting the skin from harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR). It does this by absorbing (sunscreen) or reflecting (sunblock) the UVR that is produced by the sun. There are two types of UVR which sunscreen works to protect us against. These are UVA and UVB radiation. UVA causes damage to the skin which results in ageing, where UVB causes the skin the burn and can lead to skin cancer.
For the best protection it is recommended to use a broad spectrum. Broad spectrum sunscreens offer protection against both UVA and UVB and will generally feature zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide ingredients. Before you next buy a sunscreen, make sure it states ‘broad spectrum’ on the label.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen
There are many different sunscreen products on the market. Choosing one appropriate to your needs is an important step in caring for your skin.
The most important factors when selecting your sunscreen is that it should have an adequate SPF (30+ or 50+), be a broad spectrum, and it should be TGA approved. If unsure which one is right for you, talk to your pharmacist and they will be more than happy to answer any questions regarding product suitability.
What Does SPF Stand For?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) basically refers to the additional level of sun protection you will receive by using the product. For example, if it would usually take ten minutes for you to become sunburnt and you properly applied an SPF30+ sunscreen in theory this should equate to 300 minutes of protection. This is to be used as a guideline only. Your actual level of additional protection will depend on your skin type, how well you applied the sunscreen, how often you reapply, the UV levels, and what activities you are doing while wearing it.
You can find a Spotscreen recommended sunscreen product here.
(10 minutes x 30 SPF= 300).
How to Apply Sunscreen
Before applying a sunscreen it’s important to check its expiry date to ensure its still within date. It’s also a good idea to give the bottle a shake to ensure it’s well mixed.
As a rough guide, an average sized adult should use about 35ml of sunscreen to cover their whole body. This is about a handful. This is then broken up into about 1 teaspoon for each leg, for the back and then front of the body and then ½ a teaspoon for each arm, the face and neck.
When applying a sunscreen it’s important to:
- Apply sunscreen like you are icing a cake! Do not rub it in, but instead wipe it on.
- Wait at least 20 minutes before going in sun exposed areas or in the water
- Reapply every 2 hours