7 tips to help you avoid the summer sizzle and protect your skin

Summer is the time for outdoor adventures, but with the UV levels hitting extreme, it’s important to take steps to ensure the only person sporting a red coat this festive season is Santa!

Queensland is the skin cancer capital of the world and sun protection is critical in preventing skin damage so, don’t risk your health from a careless moment in the sun.

Here are seven sun protection tips from Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan to reduce your risk of skin cancer:


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1. Look at the UV levels.
It’s important to remember that its exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not the temperature, that is linked to skin damage; that’s why you can get sunburnt on overcast or cool days. Track the daily UV levels where you live by using the SunSmart app (free via app stores or online via cancer.org.au/SunSmartApp) and ensure you are using multiple methods of sun protection when the level is three or above.

2. Seek shade.
Built, natural and portable shade are all recommended for sun protection. Some of the sun’s UV can still reach a person in the shade via reflection off surrounding surfaces and that’s why Cancer Council Queensland always recommends people use a combination of all five sun protection methods.

3. What you wear matters.
Clothing, hats and sunglasses will all help protect you from the sun. The best sun protection comes from covering up as much skin as possible, but darker clothing with a tighter fabric structure will generally offer better protection than lightly-woven fabrics, stretched-out clothing, or light, pastel shades. If you want to be sure of the level of protection offered by your outfit, look for a tag with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating. Fabrics rated above UPF15 provide good protection, but UPF50+ is recommended. It’s also important to choose a wide-brimmed hat, so your face, neck and ears, will be shaded, and to opt for wrap-around sunglasses to protect your eyes.

4. Know your SPF.
SPF stands for sun protection factor – and it’s the measure of how much UV gets through. The higher the number, the less UV passes through. An SPF of 30 allows one-thirtieth of 3.3 per cent of UV to reach your skin. This means it filters 96.7 per cent of UV. With an SPF of 50, 98 per cent is filtered and one-fiftieth or 2 per cent gets through. It’s also important to remember that you can’t add the numbers together. For example, SPF20 moisturiser and SPF10 foundation used together don’t equal SPF30 protection. You will only be protected to the level of the highest SPF product applied.

5. Sunscreen should be used every day, but it doesn’t last all day.
Cancer Council Queensland recommends people use water-resistant TGA approved sunscreen, but any sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming, sweating or towel drying, regardless of the level of water-resistance advised on the bottle. It’s also important to remember that sunscreen can expire, so check the date on the bottle.

6. You need broad-spectrum protection.
There are two different types of UV radiation that pose a threat to your skin. UVA radiation penetrates beneath the skin, affecting the living cells beneath the surface. It contributes to skin cancer, but also causes damage like wrinkles, blotchiness, and sagging. UVB radiation affects the top layer of skin and it’s the main cause of skin cancer and skin damage. Sunscreen providing broad-spectrum protection will filter out both types of radiation, providing your skin with more comprehensive protection.

7. You need more sunscreen than you think.
To make the best use of your sunscreen, correct application is key. Liberal application with even coverage applied on clean, dry skin, 20 minutes before heading outside will give you the best protection. For the best coverage, generously spread at least one teaspoon of sunscreen per limb, front and back torso, feet and face (including neck and ears). In total it should come to about 35ml (or seven teaspoons) of sunscreen per application.

For more information about Cancer Council Queensland and staying SunSmart visit: cancerqld.org.au

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