Sunscreen should be the last line of defence after clothing, a hat, shade and sunglasses. During sun protection times, apply SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen to any skin not covered by clothing.
Understanding the label
The sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of protection sunscreen gives against UVB radiation. In lab conditions, SPF30 filters 96.7% of UVB and SPF50 filters 98%. Both can provide excellent protection if they are applied properly.
Broad-spectrum means that sunscreen offers protection from UVA rays, as well as UVB.
Check and follow the ‘use by' date stated on the packaging and store sunscreen below 30°C.
How to apply sunscreen
Use a generous amount of sunscreen. The average-sized adult needs a teaspoon of sunscreen for their head and neck, each limb and for the front and the back of the body. That is about 35ml of sunscreen for one full body application.
Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside and re-apply again every two hours (whether or not the label tells you to do this).
Remember to reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.
If you have an allergic reaction to a sunscreen, try another brand or look for a fragrance-free product such as a toddler or sensitive sunscreen. A doctor or chemist could also offer advice about choosing another product.
For information about sunscreen application in childcare see Sun protection for children
Sunscreen and nanoparticles
Nanotechnology has been used in sunscreens for many years. To date, the Cancer Council's assessment, drawing on the best available evidence, is that nanoparticulates used in sunscreens do not pose a risk. We continue to monitor research on this topic.
Sunscreen has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.