Sun smarts

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow Photo: Getty

With Australia having one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, you owe it to yourself to fine tune your sun-care routine on a regular basis. Here are some basic pointers to get you started.

 Fact: not all sun care products are created equal

While SPF (sun protection factor) indicates the ability to block UVB rays, two products with the same SPF can often provide different levels of UVA protection. It’s for this very reason that you need to keep your eyes peeled for ‘broad-spectrum’ products containing ingredients such as Mexoryl and Helioplex that protect against UVA.

The verdict: Regardless of the SPF number or how water-resistant a product claims to be, it’s essential that you apply before you head outdoors and re-apply every two hours - especially if you’re swimming or exercising.



 Perfect the proportions

Although perspiration can breakdown sunblock, being tight with product application can also minimise the exact level of SPF protection gained from a lotion. As a general guide, you want to apply at least 35-40ml of product – that’s around enough to fill one shotglass, to clean dry skin at least 20 minutes before heading outdoors. If in doubt, follow the teaspoon trick: one teaspoon for each limb, one for the front and back of the body and one to cover the face, ears and neck.

The verdict: If you’re still uncertain, the Cancer Council have a free app that’s filled to the brim with UV forecasts as well as a nifty sunscreen calculator to help you estimate the correct amount of product for your size and clothing. 

 Hot tip: Although most skincare and foundation products contain SPF, it can be difficult to judge whether you’re applying enough of a product to benefit from the SPF. Rather than run the risk, it’s best to prep the skin with a generous amount of sunblock first and then think of the SPF in your makeup as an added bonus.

 New season, new sunscreen

The same way you wouldn’t use an out-of-date foundation or moisturiser on your face, you also need to keep a close eye on the expiry date of your sunblock. Consistent exposure to heat can mess with the product formulations so it’s best to store sunscreen below 30 degrees Celsius – and not in the glove-box of your car.

The verdict: Play it safe and start every summer with a fresh bottle of SPF.