Unprotected and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun can increase your risk of developing skin cancer such as melanoma.
Sunscreen can help protect the skin from the UV rays and it is important that we know how to use it correctly.
Note: During NZ summer UVI is extremely high and we recommend minimising time spent in the sun from 10am to 4pm from September to April, even with sun protection.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
Sunscreen when applied to your skin provides a barrier to absorb or filter UV rays, therefore reducing the amount of UVR reaching your skin. When UV Index are above 3, we recommend using sunscreen together with other forms of sun protections such as hats, clothing, and shade.
What is SPF number?
SPF is Sun Protection Factor. Generally higher the number the more the protection from UVR. If an average skin takes 10 minutes to burn in the sun, applying SPF 30 would allow the skin to stay in the sun without burning for about 30 times longer (300 minutes)
We would recommend using SPF 30+ sunscreen for most skins. If you have fair, easy to burn skin we recommend SPF 50+.
What is “broad-spectrum”?
Broad spectrum means the sunscreen provides protection against both UVA and UVB. Although UVB are the common cause of sunburn, UVA can cause cellular damage, contributing to melanoma, other skin cancer and ageing. We recommend using broad-spectrum sunscreen for all purpose.
How to apply sunscreen?
Use the “two coat approach”. Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going out and again after you have been out for 10 minutes. This allows thicker layer to form as well as reaching areas the initial coating did not touch.
Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
Note: use waterproof sunscreen if you will be playing in the water and do not forget to reapply as soon as you are out of the water.
What about babies?
Babies especially <12 months of age can have sensitive skin, be cautious about using sunscreen for this group. It is advisable that babies try stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible or use shade or clothing for protection.
But if there is a risk that your baby might be burned, use SPF30+ broad spectrum sunscreen applied 20 minutes before going out and reapplied every 2 hours, just like an adult.
If you are using the sunscreen for the first time, it is also a good idea to test the sunscreen on a small area of skin for few hours to check for any reaction.