With the weather warming up, now is a great time to remind ourselves how easy it is to take action against the harmful effects of the sun.
In Australia, two in three people will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.
Each year, more than 2,000 people in Australia die from skin cancer and it's estimated that as a country we spend more than $1 billion per year treating skin cancer, with costs increasing substantially over the past few years.
Yet most skin cancers can be prevented by the use of good sun protection. Remember that good sun protection involves using as many protection strategies as possible. Any one of these on its own will not provide sufficient protection.
So take action today with these six SunSmart tips:
1. Learn to use the UV Index
The best way to know when you need to use sun protection is to use the UV Index. The UV Index is a great tool for helping plan your time outside and avoiding the strongest UV radiation. Remember the stronger the UV radiation, the faster it's doing you harm.
When the UV index is above 3, we need to cover up.
Download our free SunSmart UV app so you can monitor the UV level and plan your time outside.
2. Slip on protective clothing
- Use clothing that covers as much skin as possible
- Materials that have a close weave have higher UV protection
- Darker colours absorb more UV radiation
- Cotton, polyester/cotton and linen materials are lightweight, cool to wear and when tightly woven can protect against 95% of UV radiation
- Look for material with a UV Protection Factor (UPF) of 40 to 50 for best protection.
3. Slop on SPF 30 or higher sunscreen
No sunscreen provides 100% UV protection - remember to use in combination with protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.
Look for a sunscreen that:
- Has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30
- Is labelled ‘broad spectrum' - this will filter both UVA and UVB radiation
- Is water resistant - less likely to be washed off by water activities or sweat
- Meets Australian standards - look for ‘AUST L' or ‘AS/NZS 2604:98' on the label
- Has a valid expiry date
4. Slap on a hat
Slap on a hat that provides as much shade as possible to your face, head, neck, ears and eyes.
There are three main styles of hats that provide adequate sun protection:
- Broad brimmed hats - with a brim of at least 7.5cm
- Bucket or ‘surfie' style hats - with a deep crown and brim of at least 6cm
- Legionnaire hats - with a flap that covers the back of the neck
- Baseball caps and visors do not provide adequate protection as they leave the ears and the back of the neck exposed.
5. Seek shade
Staying in the shade is one of the most effective ways to reduce sun exposure, but remember:
- Other sun protection measures (clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen) must also be used to avoid indirect UV radiation.
- Whatever you use for shade, be it trees or built shade structures make sure it casts a dark shadow.
6. Slide on some sunglasses
Sunglasses can protect your eyes against UV radiation. When choosing sunglasses look for:
- Frames that fit close to the face
- Wrap around styles that reduce UV entering from the sides
- The Australian standard label.
- All sunglasses sold in Australia must be tested and labelled according to the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 Sunglasses and Fashion Spectacles
- Sunglasses that have an eye protection factor (EPF) of 10
- If you wear prescription glasses consider adding a UV protective coating, attaching protective shades or wearing prescription sunglasses.