Stay safe in hot summer sun
Consumers suffering allergic reactions to sunscreen or burns when using it have been reported in the media recently, so it seems timely to provide some tips.
The following information from WA’s Department of Health and The Australian College of Dermatologists.
Sunscreen alone is not enough to protect us from the sun’s harmful rays.
No doubt you will be familiar with these combined messages:
SLIP on protective clothing, including when you are in water.
SLOP on sunscreen — a liberal amount of SPF 30+ or higher gently layered on all exposed skin 20 minutes before going outside and reapplied at least every two hours.
SLAP on a hat — broad-brimmed or one with fabric covering the back of the neck.
SEEK shade — avoid sun exposure completely in the middle of the day.
SLIDE on some sunglasses — preferably lens category three or four.
Choose sunscreen labelled broad-spectrum, which means it protects against UVA and UVB rays.
Sunscreen should meet Australian standards – AS/NZS 2604:2012 on the label means tested and regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Adverse reactions or doubts about efficacy can be reported to the TGA via tga.gov.au.
Read ingredients to see whether there’s anything you or your family are known to be allergic to.
However, ingredient-labelling requirements for sunscreens are a bit different for cosmetics, so certain things contained in the product may not be listed.
This makes it imperative to carry out a patch test — putting a blob on a small area of skin, such as your inner arm, for 24 — to ensure no reaction is suffered.
Price shouldn’t affect the level of protection you get.
A cheap bottle of SPF30+ should do the same as an expensive one.
Cost difference usually relates to whether it’s a lotion, cream, spray, roll-on or wipes, and you’re paying for how it looks and feels on skin, convenient packaging and easy application.
Look for water-resistant sunscreen to repel sweat and for when you go in a pool or the ocean but you’ll need to reapply after drying off. Lack of reapplication is the main reason for sunburn.
Check the expiry date because it has to be used by then.
If you go on to suffer burning, stinging or redness when using a sunscreen, don’t use it again and report it to the manufacturer and the TGA. It is recommended not to use sunscreen on babies under six months old.
Clothing, hats and keeping out of middle-of-the-day sun are better options for infants.
The temperature of your sunscreen needs to be lower than 30C. Store sunscreen in your esky, wrap it in a towel or put it in shade and don’t leave it in a hot car or full sunshine.