Many of you will remember the Slip, Slop, Slap campaign from 1981. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.
Things have changed and this jingle has now been modified to:
Exposing your skin to the sun puts you at risk of premature ageing — wrinkles, uneven skin tone, loss of elasticity — and worse, skin cancer. The message is clear: use an effective sunscreen every day. But how much do you really know about sunscreens?
It is mainly the ultra violet rays, UVA and UVB which cause the damage. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, gradually destroying elasticity and causing premature ageing. UVB rays cause skin damage and can alter the structure of skin cells, and ultimately lead to possible skin cancer. UVC rays are the most dangerous but as they are blocked out by the ozone layer, they don't reach the earth's surface. A broad spectrum, SPF30+ sunscreen will help protect against UVA and UVB radiation.
How do sunscreens work?
Sunscreens are filters of UV energy. They are not "blocks". They are used to filter a proportion of UV rays. By definition, all types of sunscreen will include active ingredients which either absorb or scatter and reflect UV energy which would otherwise enter the skin and cause severe damage.
Sunscreens are a means to reduce the dose of sunburn you would get if you don’t wear isunscreen. Sunscreen is used to delay this burning affect and to filter the penetration of Ultra Violet activity.
What is SPF?
According to Wikipedia, the SPF of a sunscreen is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen - the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UV-B (the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn). The SPF indicates the time a person with sunscreen applied can be exposed to sunlight before getting sunburn relative to the time a person without sunscreen can be exposed. For example, someone who would burn after 12 minutes in the sun would expect to burn after 120 minutes if protected by a sunscreen with SPF 10. In practice, the protection from a particular sunscreen depends on factors such as:
An SPF 30 product will permit 1/30th of the sunburning energy through it in the same time as it would take to suffer a minimal sunburn without any protection at all. Sunburn may take hours to actually appear on the skin.
What does broad spectrum mean?
Broad spectrum means it protects from both UVB, the rays that burn, and UVA, the rays that penetrate deep into the layers of the skin and cause premature ageing.
What are the key ingredients in sunscreens?
Many sunscreens contain a combination of chemical and mineral ingredients. These are effective formulas using less chemicals, but are usually cheaper than all-mineral formulas, which are more expensive to produce.
There are two types of sunscreen ingredients:
The latest mineral sunscreens have "micronised formulas", where the minerals have been finely ground, making them invisible when applied.
Common chemical absorbers include:
Common blockers include:
How and when should I apply sunscreen?
Once you receive a dose of sunburn, no sunscreen or re-application is going to prevent this effect. The Cancer Council Australia recommends keeping babies out of the sun as much as possible for the first 12 months.
To ensure you get the most from your sunscreen:
If you would like any information about the best sunscreen for you and your family please speak to one of our friendly staff and they will be pleased to help you.