Is sunscreen enough to protect your skin?

There is no denying sunscreen is essential to your daily skincare routine.

But is sunscreen enough to protect your skin? With the mercury rising and two-thirds of Aussies developing skin cancer in their lifetimes, it’s important to know your risk and how to reduce it.  

Not all sunscreens are created equal

Unfortunately, you can’t slap on an SPF15+ foundation and be protected for the rest of the day. However, the Cancer Council recommends a broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF30 or higher sunscreen on days when the UV level is 3 or above (not necessarily sunny!). SPF50+ offers marginally better protection and needs to be applied just as regularly as other sunscreens.

You might need more sunscreen than you think

Twenty minutes before you go outdoors, you should apply approximately one teaspoon to each arm, leg, body front, body back and face. And reapply at least every two hours – no matter what the bottle says – and after swimming or sports… phew!

You can easily see how your sunscreen application could miss a spot or lose its effectiveness over time. 

A more complete solution 

In addition to sunscreen, you should also put on sun-protective clothing, a broad-rimmed hat and UV-rated sunglasses. But even with this suit of armour, you shouldn’t use it as an excuse to bake in the harsh sun rays all day long. Make sure you regularly seek shade, too. After all, too much sun exposure also increases your risk of dehydration and heatstroke.

Awareness is everything

Fact: anyone can get skin cancer, even if you use sunscreen every day. Another fact: the earlier skin cancers are detected, the better your chances of recovery. Many GPs and skin cancer clinics bulk-bill for skin checks, but it’s important to know your body and what changes to look out for (ABCDE: Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter, Evolving).

The Cancer Council has excellent resources about sun safety. Head to their website to find out how much sun you need and how to protect yourself.