Cancer Council WA SunSmart Manager, Mark Strickland, chimes in on why it's still important to apply sunscreen during winter months.
Should I wear SPF daily in winter?
Probably, yes. It's important to apply sunscreen whenever you're going to be outside for more than a few minutes and the UV Index is 3 or higher. For most of Australia, daily winter UV levels will reach 3 or higher, for some time in the middle of the each day. The exception is the southern states like Victoria and in southern locations like Albany in WA. In these places, the winter UV index values may not reach 3. At these times, you can go without sunscreen unless you are planning to be out all day. A really great website for learning about the UV Index, including finding out what the UV is right now, is www.myuv.com.au.
Is it as important to wear SPF in winter as in summer?
Yes. We need to protect our skin when the UV index is 3 or higher. We consider UV to be damaging when it is at 3 or above on the UV Index.
Are there any specific brands of SPF you would recommend?
No. As long as the sunscreen has an Aust L number and carries an SPF 30 or higher rating, it will be very effective. These days there are lots of new formulations, so experiment until you find one you like. There are some really great, non-greasy SPF 50 sunscreens out now which are very good. As with all health related products, it is important to follow the directions.
How many times each day throughout winter should we apply SPF?
Any sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. More often if you are active.
What does SPF stand for?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number 15, 30, 50 etc. represents the fraction of UV radiation that gets through the product. You just put 1 over the SPF number. So SPF 50 allows 1/50th of the UV light through, SPF 30 allows 1/30th of the UV through and so on. Many cosmetic products include an SPF of 15 which is no longer regarded as a primary sunscreen, meaning that it is not really protective enough. When choosing a dedicated sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher is our recommendation.
Other resources to check out
The UV index is a super simple tool to use. Once you understand it, you can look after your own sun protection needs 24/7/365 anywhere on the planet. It great! See it in action at www.myuv.com.au