In hot summers like this, sunscreen is ubiquitous. In our child-filled household, the “it’s not rubbed in properly” tantrum is usually third on the list, following the “don’t look at me” and the “I’ve got nothing to wear” tantrums.
But are you doing it correctly? Here are some tips and rules of thumb that may improve you practice and increase your knowledge in the area.
Each adult should use the equivalent of at least six teaspoons of sunscreen per application to get to the sun protection factor (SPF) advertised on the label. Most people put on a lot less than this, partly due to not wanting the sticky factor. For this reason the higher the SPF the better, just in case it underperforms due to under-application.
What about the water?
It has been a while since any sunscreens were allowed to label themselves “waterproof”. Even the most water resistant sunscreens will come off in under two hours of water play. Therefore, if in and out of the water, sunscreens should be reapplied at least every two hours – and after every swim if your sunblock has no water resistance. For sunscreens to be water resistant, they need to be applied at least 10 minutes prior to swimming to allow them to form a proper protective film.
Remember, it’s not just sunburn
Along with sunburn, sun exposure is also associated with skin cancer formation, wrinkling and the worsening of some skin disorders. You are still at risk of these problems even on days that your risk of sunburn is not high. Therefore, applying sunscreen on sun exposed areas every day of the year is a good habit to get into. This is especially so for lighter-skinned individuals, and is often more tolerable if applied in combination with a moisturiser or skin care product. Men may find this a bit “metro”, but if it keeps your youthful good looks and helps prevent skin cancer on the building site, it is worth it.
Dr David Hassan, Rodney Surgical Centre