Sunscreen is a must if you’re outside in summer. Image via Adobe Stock.
Did you know that not all sunscreens are made the same? And sometimes, labels may be deceptive – water-resistant, broad-spectrum, SPF 100, what do they all mean and which sunblock is going to be your best choice for protection against the suns harmful rays? Well, we did a little investigating and found out that your favourite sunscreen may not actually be as protective as you think. Here are five sunscreen facts that you probably didn’t know about but should, so you can make the best decision about what sunscreen you should be purchasing for you and your family this summer.
SPF – Bigger isn’t always better
SPF stands for sun protection factor and is a measure of how much sun a person wearing sunscreen can be exposed to without getting a sunburn, compared to how much sun that person could be exposed to without any type of protection. However, just because the SPF is higher, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to give you more protection. In fact – these very high SPF sunscreens, such as SPF 50 or even SPF 100 only give you slightly more protection than their lower SPF peers. To put it into perspective, an SPF 30 blocks 97 per cent of the suns rays, an SPF 50 blocks 98 per cent and there is no evidence to prove that anything higher than an SPF will give you any more protection – ultimately, no sun will block 100 per cent of the sun’s harmful rays.
Sunscreen alone isn’t enough
Sunscreen should actually be your last defence against the sun and sunscreen alone is not enough to protect yourself. Wearing clothes can reduce your risk of getting burnt by 27 per cent and staying in the shade can reduce your risk by 30 per cent. Wearing a hat and sunglasses is also recommended and limiting your time out in the full sun between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm will also reduce your risk of sun damage.
You can get sun damage even on cloudy days
Did you know that you can still get burnt even on cloudy days? You can even get sun damage from being indoors! There are two harmful rays the sun emits – UVB (B for burn) and UVA which penetrates the deeper layers of your skin and can penetrate clouds and glass. UVA rays are tricky because they can cause damage that isn’t visible – UVA rays can often be hard to block and they generate free radicals within the deep layers of your skin, which react with many molecules in the body, damaging DNA and causing premature skin ageing.
No sunscreen is waterproof
Waterproof is not the same as water-resistant which is what some sunscreens are labelled as. So, if you are swimming or sweating in the sun, you sunblock should have the words “water-resistant” which mean that the sunscreen is effective for up to 40 minutes in the pool or at the beach, or “very water-resistant” which means that you are protected for up to 80 minutes in the water. It is recommended that you reapply sunscreen every time you come out of the water as they are not waterproof.
You need about a shot size glass of sunscreen
One of the biggest mistakes people make with sunscreen is that they don’t apply enough. To make it easier – the rule of thumb is that you should apply a full shot glass of sunscreen to your whole body, making sure to fully cover the most exposed areas to the sun. Be sure to apply it thoroughly for best protection and stay out of the sun when you can.