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The 5 biggest sunscreen mistakes people make

Blog post | 19 Nov 2017

Australians still love a sunburnt country. According to research by the Cancer Council, 2.7 million adults get sunburnt every weekend.

Two in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, yet misinformation about sun protection is rife. 

The Cancer Council’s most recent National Sun Protection Survey found that almost half of Australians believe it’s unsafe to use sunscreen every day, with many respondents worried that sunscreens contain ingredients that are bad for them. 

“Sunscreens in Australia are strictly regulated by the Therapeutics Goods Administration to ensure that the ingredients they contain are safe and effective,” says Craig Sinclair, chair of the Public Health Committee, Cancer Council Australia. “Australians should be confident that they can use sunscreen on a daily basis – there is no evidence to suggest the ingredients are bad for your health.”

Here are 5 common mistakes people make when it comes to sunscreen (and how to fix them):

Mistake 1: Thinking sunscreen will lower your vitamin D levels

One in 5 adults believe this one, reports the Cancer Council. “Several studies have shown that sunscreen use in real life has minimal impact on Vitamin D levels over time. In summer, most of us get enough Vitamin D through incidental sun exposure,” explains Mr Sinclair. 

Mistake 2: Not applying enough sunscreen

You need at least one teaspoon of sunscreen per limb, one for the front of the body, one for the back and one for the head, says Mr Sinclair. That’s around 35ml, or 7 teaspoons, in total. 

Mistake 3: Forgetting to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or after swimming

Regardless of what the label says – water resistant SPF 50+, for example – any sunscreen should be slapped on again after 2 hours, or after swimming, sweating or towel drying.  

Mistake 4: Relying on SPF makeup

Unless it’s SPF 30 or higher, you should apply additional sunscreen under your makeup if you’re going outside for an extended period.

Mistake 5: Using only sunscreen

Think ‘slip, slop, slap’ (that's slip on a t-shirt, slop on your sunscreen and slap on a hat). Far from being the only protection you need, sunscreen should be used in conjunction with protective clothing, shade, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses. 

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