Being Sun Safe this Summer

By Guild Trainer/Assessor Cameron Miller

It seems like something all of a sudden changes when our calendars roll over to December 1st. It’s almost like it’s in the air, we notice and feel it as it starts to build. Excitement and anticipation building for the coming holidays coupled with the tension that goes along with it. The sunny days grow longer & the summer’s heat sets in. And best of all Cricket begins. It’s “silly season!”

Many of us and our customers cherish this time of year and eagerly want to be by the beach or pool, sizzling snags on the BBQ or having a hit with the bat and ball with friends and family. But while there is much to look forward to in the “silly season”, it never hurts to be smart, especially Sun Smart.

So as our customers look to enjoy what the summer days have to offer, let’s brush up on our knowledge of sunscreens so that we can prove helpful in keeping them protected in the Sun.

The danger
The danger from the sun comes as UVA & UVB radiation, generally referred to as UV rays.

UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin causing long term damage like wrinkles, blotchiness, sagging roughening and also contributes to skin cancer. UVA = Skin aging.

UVB rays penetrate the top layers of skin causing sunburn and are the main cause of skin cancer. UVB = Sunburn.

It’s estimated that 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers are skin cancers with over 1 million patients consulting a doctor for skin cancer each year.

Be sun smart
We all realise that if we’re spending time in the sun it’s best to be protected. This is my means of wearing hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. But when it comes to sunscreen how do we understand what’s on the label?

What is SPF?
Sun Protection Factor or SPF is a rating the indicates the amount of UVB rays that potentially reaches our skin. For example, SPF50 only let’s 1/50th of UVB rays reach out skin or 2% filtering out 98% of UVB rays. With SPF ratings the higher the number the better it is at blocking the UV rays.

What does “broad-spectrum” mean?
As mentioned earlier, there are different types of UV radiation. Broad-spectrum sunscreen filters both UVA and UVB radiation. This is a good feature to look for in a sunscreen.

How does sunscreen work?
UV radiation is invisible energy from the sun and is the main cause of skin cancer. Sunscreen ingredients work in two ways, either scattering or absorbing UV radiation to stop it reaching the skin. Because sunscreen helps prevent UV radiation from reaching the skin, it helps prevent DNA damage which leads to skin cancer.

Applying sunscreen
When heading outdoors, apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside and re-apply every two hours. Use a generous amount of sunscreen. The average-sized adult should apply at least a teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm, each leg, the front and back of the torso and one to the head and neck. That is at least 35 ml of sunscreen for one full body application, for an average-sized adult.

Many Australians apply too little sunscreen and forget to re-apply every two hours. This means they usually get less than half the protection stated on the label.

Sunscreen can be easily wiped off, lost through perspiration and is often applied unevenly in the first place. Putting on more sunscreen every two hours helps keep you protected. Always reapply after swimming or water sports.

Understanding and selecting the right sunscreen, applying it properly and frequently will mean that the only thing burnt these holidays will be the snags.