There is a lot of information around about which type of sunscreen or which sun protection method is best, but which sources should we trust? According to the Cancer Council and SunSmart, a water resistant sunscreen with at least a SPF 30+ rating should be used. These organisations, along with the Australasian College of Dermatologists, say sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before heading outdoors.
Sunscreen provides a protective barrier between your skin and the sun by adding a layer of chemical absorbers and physical blockers to your skin. Chemical absorbers absorb UV radiation before it comes in contact with the skin, and physical blockers cause the UV radiation to reflect off the skin.
What about some of the other myths or practises that you may have heard in the past? What’s right and what’s wrong and who should be believed? Here are some answers to common sunscreen myths for you to consider:
- I tan, so I don't need sunscreen.
Whilst skincancer.org and other skin cancer organisations state that people with fairer skin are more likely to experience skin cancer than those with olive or dark skin, this does not mean the latter get to rule out sun safety practices all together. Anyone can get skin cancer and everyone should be wearing SPF 50+ sunscreen, sun protective clothing and a broad brimmed hat outside.
- I don’t sunbake so I don’t need sunscreen.
Whilst people who sunbake are putting themselves at risk of skin cancer, even those who spend most of their time indoors away from the sun are still at risk. If you head outdoors during the day, you will be subjected to UVA and UVB rays, even on cloudy or cold days; even if it’s only a 20-minute walk, you will experience more exposure to UVA and UVB rays than you would probably guess. So if you’re outside, always apply sunscreen.
- I’ve applied my sunscreen… now I’m ready to go.
Sunscreen offers protection, but the best sun protection is sunscreen and long-sleeved, protective clothing, and a broad-brimmed hat. As well as this, staying out of the sun during the hours of the day with the highest UV rating (between 11am and 2pm) and using sunscreen regularly will dramatically decrease your risk of skin cancer.
- I can’t wear sunscreen, so I can just rely on a hat and protective clothing.
Even if you’re allergic to sunscreen, have sensitive skin or it doesn’t react well to your skin for any other reason, there are always other SPF protective options. There are sunscreens for sensitive skin and sunscreen specially designed for toddlers. Ask your pharmacist what the best option is for you.
- I won’t get enough vitamin D if I apply sunscreen.
Sufficient vitamin D can usually be achieved within 15 minutes sun exposure, so hours in the sun, with or without sun protection will put you at risk of skin cancer. Ample vitamin D can also be achieved by eating certain foods, taking a supplement and incidental daily sun exposure.
For more information on sunscreen myths, head online to sundoctors.com.au, or call on 13 SKIN (13 7546).