Scott McLennan

Sunscreen – Some myths explained!

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So we are now in the height of summer and this is the when you are more likely to be applying sunscreen (you should be applying it all year round – but hey!), I thought I might just take a moment and chat about sunscreen and some of the myths surrounding them.

In todays information overload world there is a lot of information about, some slightly more truthful than others, and some more marketing than truth. So here are some of the common myths – explained.

Myth #1: Dark skin doesn’t burn, so they don’t need sunscreen.

Simply – all complexions can burn; Caucasian skin just shows it more quickly than people of colour!

Myth #2: The higher the SPF, the better the sunscreen.

In the US and in Europe some sunscreens claim up to 100+ SPF, in Australia you cannot claim anything above 30+ SPF. So you may believe that the Australians are cheating – actually the science behind the rating scales is just simplified in Australia. The ratio of sun protection above 30 is not directly related to the number. I.e.: SPF 15 gives you approximately 93% sun protection and SPF 30 gives you around 97% sun protection. SPF 100 cannot physically give you more than 100% protection.

Myth #3: A thin layer of sunscreen is all I need.

The more sunscreen you apply the better. Generally we only apply around 20% of the actual amount we need.

Myth #4: If I apply lots of sunscreen in the morning it will last all day!

Applying sunscreen frequently throughout the day allows the sunscreen to remain constantly active. Sunscreen wears off. This can be caused by sweat, water, evaporation, and absorption. So re-apply every 2-4 hrs.

Myth #5:  On cloudy days I don’t need sunscreen.

Unfortunately UVA rays (the sun’s ultraviolet rays) can pass through clouds and reflect off a multitude of surfaces (cars, water, buildings, snow, windows, concrete) onto our skin. This will still cause damage, and yes you can still burn.

Myth #6: I don’t go outside – I don’t need sunscreen.

You maybe surprised just how often we experience exposure to UV rays when we don’t go outside: Driving, hanging the washing, watering the plants etc. we also experience UV ray exposure from laptops, TV’s, fluorescent lights etc. So please just wear sunscreen.

Myth #7: I only use sunscreen in summer – so it should last.

Sunscreens have a life of around 2-3 years depending on the manufacturer, and how you store the products. Unfortunately they also start to loose their effectiveness over time once they are opened (oxidation, evaporation, extreme temperatures etc.). Always check the expiration date, or the date of manufacture and don’t use anything that is older than 2 years. It just won’t work.

So when it comes to skin protection and sun protection – get the maximum benefit from your investment – and look after yourself when having fun in the sun:

 Know your sunscreen is a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB),

Use SPF 30+ every 2-4 hours

Use sunscreen every day – even in-doors.

Check the expiry date of your sunscreen.





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