Five myths about sun protection

Updated 5 Aug 2021.

Sun protection

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world1This is largely due to our proximity to the equator, a largely fair-skinned population, and our love of the great outdoors.

Fortunately, being SunSmart is a simple way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer

The free SunSmart app tells you exactly when the UV level is 3 or above and can send you an alert to remind you when sun protection times start. It also tells you the forecast maximum UV for the day.

To help make sure you're well protected all year round, our SunSmart team has debunked five sun protection myths.

MYTH 1: Sun damage is not possible on windy, cloudy or cool days.

FALSE You can get sun damage on windy, cloudy and cool days. Sun damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not temperature. A cool or overcast day in summer can have similar UV levels to a warm, sunny day. If it's windy and you get a red face, it's likely to be sunburn. There's no such thing as ‘windburn'.

MYTH 2: Sunscreen is not necessary when using cosmetics with SPF.

FALSE Unless cosmetics are labelled with an SPF 30 or higher rating, you should wear additional sunscreen under your makeup if you're going to be in the sun for an extended period. For longer periods of time in the sun, use a separate sunscreen and reapply it every two hours - not just once in the morning. Be aware that most cosmetic products offer either no protection or protection that is much lower than the recommended SPF 30.

MYTH 3: You can't get burnt in the car through a window.

FALSE You can get burnt through a car window. Untinted glass commonly used in car side windows reduces, but does not completely block, transmission of UV radiation. This means you can still get burnt if you spend a long time in the car next to an untinted side window when the UV is high.

More commonly, people are burnt in cars with the windows down, where they can be exposed to high levels of UV radiation.

MYTH 4: A fake tan darkens the skin, protecting the skin from the sun.

FALSE Fake tanning lotion does not improve your body's ability to protect itself from the sun, so you will still need sun protection. Some fake tans have an SPF rating but this should not be relied on for continued protection.

MYTH 5: You can stay out longer in the sun when you are wearing SPF 50 than you can with SPF 30.

FALSE No sunscreen is a suit of armour and sunscreen should never be used to extend the amount of time you spend in the sun. Though it may sound like there is a big difference, SPF 50 only offers marginally better protection from UVB radiation, which causes sunburn and adds to skin cancer risk. SPF 30 sunscreens filter about 96.7 per cent of UV radiation, SPF 50 sunscreens filter 98 per cent of UV.

We recommend applying a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher before heading outside, every two hours, after swimming, sweating, or towel drying.

Key take away: When the UV is 3 or more, make sure to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide!

Did you hear that our sunscreen was voted Australia's Most Trusted sunscreen brand?

Cancer Council WA sunscreen

For the sixth year in a row, our sunscreen has won the Reader's Digest 'Most Trusted Brands' Award for the sunscreen category this year! Protect your skin with our range of broad-spectrum sunscreens, while supporting West Australians impacted by cancer.

For more information about sun protection and skin cancer

1 Ferlay J, Soerjomatram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin D, Forman D, Bray F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11. IARC, World Health Organisation, 2013.

Found in:  News - 2021 | View all news