HEALTH: Top 5 sunscreen mistakes we all might be making

07 March 2017

Following a spate of complaints this summer about sunscreens not working, the Cancer Council’s investigations have revealed it is human error, not faulty sunscreen, that’s behind some of us feeling the burn.

After receiving more than 400 complaints, the Cancer Council tested the products and found that while the products past the test, the way they are being used did not.

A recent study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology found 85 per cent of people did not apply enough sunscreen and only one in three reapplied every two hours. One in five never reapplied.

In response to the findings, The Cancer Council is redesigning its sunscreen packaging and simplifying its instructions.

The main sunscreen mistakes

According to the Cancer Council, these are the mistakes many of us are making when applying sunscreen:

  1. Not using enough: a full body application should be around 35ml – 5ml for the face, neck and ears, 5ml for each limb and 5ml for each side of the torso (front and back)
  2. Not reapplying: ensure you’re reapplying every two hours, especially when swimming. It may say four hours’ water resistant, but that doesn’t take into account perspiration and frequent swimming.
  3. Not applying before heading outdoors: Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before you go outside.
  4. Using sunscreen as the first line of defense: Sunscreen be the last line of defense after shade, sunglasses, hat and clothing.
  5. Using on babies under six months: Babies under six months of age should be kept out of the sun as even baby and kids’ sunscreens are only suitable for babies older than six months.

It's also worth remembering that while summer may be over, the risk of sun damage in Queensland is high all year round.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said Queenslanders needed sun protection on most days of the year – regardless of the weather or temperature.

“During Autumn, UV levels will be high from around 8:30am until 4pm – and will reach extreme levels," says Katie.

 “Skin damage and sunburn at these levels can occur in as little as 10 minutes if people are outdoors, unprotected from the sun during Autumn."

Cancer Council encouraged Queenslanders to download the SunSmart app, to stay up-to-date with real-time UV levels during Autumn.

Let us know – have you been guilty of using sunscreen incorrectly?

Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City
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