Safe fun under the sun

Aussie summer soon comes around! That means endless days spent beaching and bbqing while soaking up the gorgeous Aussie climate. But just because winter is cloudy and we spend more time indoors, doesn’t mean we can forget the protection during the cooler seasons. Before you head out, a word of advice for safe fun under the sun, all year around.

Myth – The SPF in my makeup is enough

Fact – If you use foundation with an SPF the quantity applied isn’t enough for skin to be fully protected while out in the sun. Your face would need to be heavily caked with makeup to get the required sun protection. It’s great to have SPF in your makeup, but consider it more of a nice extra, it is not your main safeguard!

Myth – I don’t have to worry about UV protection on an overcast, cloudy day

Fact – Clouds only block a small percent of UV rays so you can still get burned and cause damage when unprotected, even on overcast and cloudy days.

Myth – But I need sun to get vitamin D

Fact – This is a common misconception. First, most people don’t apply sunscreen well enough to prevent skin from producing vitamin D. Second, you don’t need a lot of time in the sun to make adequate vitamin D levels. If your skin kept making vitamin D in response to sunlight, it would reach toxic levels. You can get enough vitamin D from a mix of diet, supplements, and incidental sun exposure.

Myth – A base tan protects you

Fact – There is no such thing as a safe tan. A tan is literally your skin’s response to being injured by UV.

Myth – Anything over a SPF 15+ is a waste

Fact – Many dermatologists agree that there are meaningful differences between SPF 15+ and 30+, because we are so bad at applying it. Often we get a lower SPF than what is stated on the bottle because we apply too little or don’t reapply regularly enough. A higher SPF is always better.

Myth – Last year’s bottle is still ok

Fact – You should be applying enough that you’re not using the same bottle year after year. Some sunscreens break down quickly, especially the ones that give you UVA protection. So it shouldn’t sit in your bathroom cabinet for too long. Make sure you’re using enough on each application, and always check the PAO (period-after-opening) symbol on the bottle.

Myth – Certain chemicals in sunscreen makes them more dangerous than skipping them

Fact – You may have heard claims that certain sunscreen ingredients can be carcinogenic or have oestrogen-like effects on the body. While this is a controversial area, most dermatologists agree that there are no studies that demonstrate this. Bottom line: The ultimate experiment is done every weekend at the beach when tens of millions of people use sunscreen. The benefits far outweigh the suspicions.

Myth – I don’t need sunscreen if it’s not peak hours between 10am-2pm

Fact – The likelihood of burning is increased when the sun is directly overhead—from about 10am to 2pm. Although UVB rays, which cause burning and some skin cancers, peak at mid-day, UVA rays, which contribute to ageing and some skin cancers, are constant all day long. Cancer Council guidance advises to apply sunscreen whenever the UV rating is 3 or above.