Skin Saving Sunscreen
Sunscreen is the single most important product we should add to our beauty routine, not only to help slow down the aging process, but also to help prevent melanomas. According to Heather Walker, Chair of the National Skin Cancer Committee, Cancer Council Australia: “Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with an incidence of skin cancer that is two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK. By the time they are 70, two in three Australians will receive a skin cancer diagnosis, meaning skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers. Each year more than 750,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers and over 12,000 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma. Sadly, each year around 2,000 people will die from skin cancer.
“UV damage causes 95% of melanomas (the most deadly form of skin cancer), so it is crucial Australians slip on sun protective clothing, slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF 30+ (or higher) sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on some sunglasses, whenever the UV index is three or above.” All sunscreens sold in Australia will have an Aust L number on them, meaning they conform to strict Australian standards, so wherever possible, buy your sunscreen in Australia, to ensure it has the stated protection for Australian conditions.
So, it seems to be a no brainer that we should protect ourselves from the sun, especially in Australia, so let’s take a look at the different types of sunscreen available, and what types suit different skin types. Sunscreen comes in 2 different basic types – chemical sunscreens, which absorb the suns UV rays and turn it into heat energy (most sunscreens are chemical), and physical sunscreens, which deflect and scatter the suns rays before they penetrate your skin (zinc sunscreens are physical). The post below features both SPF 30+ and SPF 50+ sunscreens. It is important to note that SPF 50+ will filter out up to 98% of the sun’s UVB radiation, whilst SPF 30+ will filter out 96.7%. There is such a small difference, and if you find a SPF 30+ in a formula you like, it will still provide you with a high degree of protection. It’s not only important to wear sunscreen, but also to make sure you are wearing the correct amount to prevent sunburn and skin damage. We will look at how much sunscreen you should use to make sure you are protected too.
How much sunscreen should you use?
First things first, regardless of the type of sunscreen you use, it’s very important to make sure you apply enough quantity of sunscreen, apply it early enough before sun exposure, and re-apply frequently. Many people are sunburned each year after applying sunscreen, either because they did not allow enough time for the sunscreen barrier to form before exposure, did not apply enough for the sunscreen to be protective, or did not re-apply frequently enough after swimming or playing sport. According to the Cancer Council Australia, here are the 3 golden rules when applying sunscreen:
- Sunscreen (SPF 30+ or higher) should be applied 20 minutes before exposure to UV in order to create the intended protective barrier. It should be applied liberally and evenly to clean and dry skin.
- For an adult, the recommended application is 5ml (approximately one teaspoon) for each arm, leg, body front, body back and face (including neck and ears). That equates to a total of 35ml (approximately seven teaspoons) for a full body application.
- Sunscreen should always be reapplied at least every two hours, irrespective of the water resistance of the sunscreen. Swimming, sport, sweating and towel drying can reduce the effectiveness of the product, so sunscreen should always be reapplied after these activities.
You should also ensure you wear protective clothing whenever you are in the sun – a hat, sunglasses with UV protection and a shirt are a must.
Here is an easy to understand video showing how much sunscreen you need to apply and when:
Lotion is the most common form of sunscreen sold in Australia, and is easy to use and provides great protection (provided you choose an SPF of 30+ or higher). Look for a Broad Spectrum sunscreen lotion that offers UVA (that cause aging), and UVB (that cause burning burning) protection, to ensure your skin is well protected during any exposure. Many Lotions now feature added benefits, such as being water resistant. Great everyday sunscreens to try include Australian made and owned Hamilton Active Family SPF 50+, a broad spectrum, fast absorbing lotion, which is suitable for all skin types and is sweat resistant. The range comes in several sizes, from handbag friendly 110g to family size 500ml. RRP $10.95-$21.95. Australian made Sun Bum SPF 50+ is a lightweight broad spectrum sunscreen lotion, which is sweat resistant and non-greasy. It is gluten free, hypoallergenic, cruelty free, and free from paraben, PABA and retinyl palmitate. Available in 177ml & 237ml sizes, RRP $17.99 & $20.99 respectively. Australian favourite Banana Boat Sun Comfort Lotion is a highly moisturising broad spectrum sunscreen. It is sweat resistant, and ideal for the beach, as it allows sand to brush off easily. 175ml RRP $16.99.
Spray-on sunscreens are an easy and convenient way of applying sunscreen (and as a bonus, they are fun for kids to use, so they will use them). Sunscreen sprays tend to be lightweight, yet still moisturising, and they absorb quickly. Sunscreen sprays are handy to apply when you are out and about, so great for the beach, picnics etc. Sunscreen sprays can be sprayed directly onto your body, and should then be evened out by hand to ensure no areas are missed (or you can spray directly into your hand and apply). Nivea Sun Protect and Moisture Moisturising Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ provides very high broad spectrum protection. It contains vitamin E so is highly moisturising. The formula is water resistant for 4 hours, and has been dermatologically tested to be non-irritating. It is suitable for everyday use. 300ml RRP $20.99. Sun Bum Premium Moisturising Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 provides 4 hours water resistant sun protection, and is broad spectrum. Enriched with vitamin E, it is highly moisturising. Gluten free, cruelty free, paraben free, hypoallergenic, and vegan, this great product is suitable for everyday use. 177ml RRP $20.99.
Sport sunscreens are specially designed for people who are highly active, whether playing sport, or pursuing outher outdoor activities such as hiking or cycling. Designed to be quickly absorbed, and quite importantly sweat resistant and non-greasy, sport sunscreens stay in place. The Cancer Council Sport Sunscreen SPF 50+ offers very high broad spectrum sun protection. It is water resistant for 4 hours, and won’t run into your eyes whilst playing sport. Sales from Cancer Council sunscreens help fund cancer research, patient support and education. The range comes in sizes from 50ml (with ezi-clip – perfect to attach to your bike or belt loops!) up to a 500ml pump, and RRP’s are between $10.95-$29.95 (110ml pictured RRP $13.95). Ella Bache Great 50+ Sportsbloc Active is a highly moisturising sunscreen, enriched with lanolin, macadamia nut oil and squalane to keep your skin hydrated, and antioxidants pomegranate, cranberry, grape seed and vitamin E to help enhance your skins protective barrier. The formula offers very high broad spectrum protection form the sun, and is 4 hour water resistant. Suitable for all sports, especially water sports. 130ml RRP $44.00.
Gone are the days when we would sunbake after applying a suntan oil with a low SPF. For those who love the feel of an oil, and the coconut fragrance – the essence of summer at the beach, the new generation of sunscreen oils have formulas which offer much higher sunscreen protection. Reef Dry Sun Tan Oil comes in SPF 30+, offering high protection against UV rays, still with the delicate coconut fragrance. Being an oil formulation, it glides easily onto your skin and is quickly absorbed, and is non-greasy. 125ml, RRP $11.19. Le Tan Coconut Sunscreen Oil SPF 30+ offers high protection against UV rays, whilst hydrating your skin with the gently scented non-greasy formula. 125ml RRP $10.99.
Roll On Sunscreen
Roll on sunscreens are a favourite amongst Australian’s as they are convenient, fit in your handbag (or child’s/grandchild’s school bag), and are easy to apply. Essentially a light lotion formula, roll on sunscreens absorb quickly into your skin whilst being highly moisturising. Nivea Sun Protect & Moisture Moisturising Sunscreen Roll On SPF 50+ provides very high broad spectrum protection from the sun. Added ingredients vitamin E and panthenol help keep your skin hydrated longer. The formula is water resistant for 4 hours. 65ml RRP $10.99. Banana Boat Kids Roll On SPF 50+is suitable for the whole family – the young and the young at heart. Offering very high, broad spectrum protection, formula is water resistant for up to 4 hours. The non-greasy formula is gentle to delicate skins and easy to apply. 75ml RRP $10.99.
Who remembers a childhood smeared in white (then coloured) zinc creams to protect you from the sun? Those zinc products are still available, but now there are whole range of zinc products available in Australia which are invisible. That’s great news for those who prefer barrier sunscreens such as zinc creams, but prefer a more subtle (ie invisible) look. Invisible Zinc Tinted Daywear SPF 30+ provides a natural zinc oxide shield for your face. The award winning formulation provides broad spectrum sun protection, whilst hydrating your skin, and its colour means you can wear it as a tinted moisturiser or foundation during the day. Invisible Zinc is paraben and paba free. 50g RRP $32.00. Australian brand O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30+ is a zinc based formula which offers broad spectrum protection against the sun in a deliciously vanilla-scented formula. Resveratrol and palmitoyl oligopeptide help rejuvenate your skin, whilst the tinted colour means you don’t need to apply foundation over the top. 75g RRP $47.00. If you have sensitive skin and have been wary of applying zinc products, be wary no more. The Cancer Council have a sensitive invisible zinc sunscreen, which is paraben and fragrance free. Providing SPF 30 broad spectrum protection against the sun, this ultra gentle formula is kind to sensitive skins (The Cancer Council recommends doing a patch test prior to first use). 75ml RRP $14.95.
Gel sunscreens are great if you have a tendency to oilier skin (although they are suitable for all skin types), as they contain ethanol and dry quickly, so do not slip off oilier skins. They are also great if you are applying to areas of your body covered by hair (arms, legs, and heads of bald, semi-bald men), as a gel formulation will not cling to hair as a lotion will. Australian made and owned Ego Sun Sense Clear Gel SPF 50 provides broad spectrum sun protection and is water resistant for up to 60 minutes. The formula is sand resistant (due to being quick drying). The formula is dermatologically tested, and suitable for all skin types. 125ml RRP $11.95.
Stick sunscreens are small (so fit easily in handbags, travel bags, or school bags), convenient, and easy to use. If you struggle with applying liquid sunscreens, due to arthritis or similar, you may find it easier to swivel a stick over your face and lips. Stick sunscreens are great for those on the go, to touch up during the day. Sun Bum Premium Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 30 comes in an easy to hold container, that will fit easily into any handbag or travel bag (perfect for holidays). The formula provides high protection broad spectrum protection against the sun, and is water resistant for 4 hours. The non-greasy formula is easily absorbed into your skin. It is gluten free, paraben/paba free, hypoallergenic, and cruelty free. 13g RRP $14.99.
The question often arises as to whether we need to use special sunscreens for our face, and the answer is an unequivocal yes. Our facial skin tends to get the most sun exposure, and is the first to age. Not to mention the skin on our face is more delicate that the skin on our bodies. Sunscreens for face have been developed with extra moisturisers to care for facial skin, whilst protecting it from the harsh Australian sun. Sunscreen on your face every day is a must! Ella Bache Great 50+ Facesaver Active provides very high broad spectrum protection against the sun. The formula is highly moisturising with ingredients like shea butter to keep skin hydrated. Super-fruit oils of pomegranate, cranberry, grapeseed, as well as vitamin e and green tea help protect your skin against damage. 50ml RRP $44.00. Nutrimetics Smart Shield Protection Creme SPF 50 (part of the Ultra Care + range) provides high broad spectrum protection against the sun. As well as being a high protection sunscreen, the addition of Multi-Defence Complex helps fight visible and invisible pollution damage to your skin by creating a barrier function to help make your skin stronger and more resilient against future damage. It is suitable for all skin types. 50ml RRP $70.00.
Oh the troubles of having sensitive skin. You can’t wear many sunscreens as they irritate your skin, yet your skin is prone to sensitivities, so really needs protection against the sun. Fortunately there are sensitive sunscreens which are specially formulated to protect and care for delicate sensitive skin, and still provide a high level of protection against the sun’s damaging rays. Australian brand Hamilton Sensitive SPF 50+ has very high broad spectrum protection for your skin and is specially formulated to reduce potential allergies. The formula is free from fragrance, lanolin and colours. It is fast drying, and quickly absorbed into your skin. The formula can be used on your face and body, and has 4 hours water resistance. 265ml RRP $17.95. The Cancer Council has a great Sensitive Sunscreen, with SPF 50+ providing very high broad spectrum protection against the sun. The formula is specially designed for sensitive skin and is paraben and fragrance free, and has aloe vera and vitamin E added to moisturise your skin. The formula has 4 hours water resistance. Available in 110ml and 200ml sizes RRP $14.95 and $19.45 respectively.
Did you know, our lips don’t contain melanin, the skin’s natural way of protecting itself against UV rays, nor do they contain sebaceous glands, so they tend to dry out and need to have moisture replenished more regularly than the rest of our skin. For these reasons, a lip balm, and especially a lip balm with an SPF is a must to protect our lips from sun damage year round. SunSense have a great lip balm in a glide on tube, with SPF 50+, which provides your lips with very high, broad spectrum protection against UV rays. The formula is fragrance and lanolin free, so suitable for sensitive skin, with added vitamin E for extra moisture, and is water resistant for 4 hours. 15g RRP $5.95. If you prefer your lip balm in a stick format, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm Sunscreen Stick SPF 15 provides moderate sun protection in an ultra moisturising formula. Formulated with vitamin E and cocoa butter, the cocoa butter melts on contact with your lips, creating a protective barrier which moistens and softens your lips. 4g RRP $3.69. Sun Bum Moisturising Lip Balm SPF 15 provides moderate sun protection in 6 delicious flavours, including Mango, Key Lime, and Coconut. With added aloe vera and vitamin E, the formula is highly moisturising. The formulas are also paraben, paba and gluten free, and are vegan friendly. 4.25g RRP $4.99.
Protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays is not only possible via the above sunscreen lotions, sprays, gels etc. Many companies are now producing sunscreen foundations with high SPF protection, so you can give your skin a high level of protection against UV rays via your foundations. Most foundations will offer SPF around 15, and this is great for short sun exposure and office wear, however if you are going to be out and about, these sunscreen foundations are well worth wearing. Ella Bache Great Suncover SPF 40 Foundation offers broad spectrum protection against suns UV rays. The foundation offers medium coverage, that can be built for extra cover, or applied thinner for a more sheer look. Light diffusing pigments and green tea and jojoba leave your skin with a soft glow. Suitable for all skin types, the foundation is made and tested in Australia and is available in 4 shades. 30ml RRP $52.00. Shiseido Liquid Foundation SPF 30 provides broad spectrum protection against UV rays. The formula is water resistant for 80 minutes, so great to wear while swimming or exercising.The formula is sebum resistant, and won’t clog pores. Available in 5 shades. 30ml RRP $62.00.
If after all of this, you still manage to get sunburned this summer (sometimes it happens), the best thing you can do for your skin is to treat it with an after sun moisturiser as soon as possible. After sun products are formulated with soothing, cooling ingredients, to quickly start to replenish moisturer and calm your damaged skin. Nutrimetics Sun Days After Sun Moisturiser is an ultra light, yet deeply nourishing formula that quickly absorbs into your damaged skin. A blend of hydrating apricot kernel oil, healing vitamin E and soothing aloe vera cool, and rapidly replenish moisture to your skin. 150ml RRP $25.00. Clinique After Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe is an ultra moisturising balm that sinks into your skin and instantly hydrates stressed skin. Soothing aloe calms sun burned skin and helps to repair the damage. The formula is allergy tested and fragrance free, and can be used on both face and body, as needed. 150ml RRP $39.00.