According to the Australian Cancer Council, melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australians with 12,744 Australians diagnosed with melanoma in 2013 alone. It’s hardly shocking given the UV exposure most of us experience in this (mostly) sunny country every day, but it also means that, as practitioners, we have to be even more diligent when it comes to educating our clients on the importance of SPF.
Skin Cancer & Cosmetic Physician Dr Scott McGregor couldn’t agree more. In fact, he is so passionate about preventing skin cancer, he created we are Feel Good Inc selling “Australian made sunscreen with integrity”. So what does a skin cancer and sunscreen expert say about our slip, slap, slop routine? Well, it could be better…
Is it necessary to wear sunscreen if I have SPF in my makeup already?
Dr McGregor: For your average day at the office with very minimal sun exposure a good makeup with SPF should suffice. However, if you are spending time in the car, walking outside at lunch time, or you are being physically active at work, then we would suggest a higher SPF sunscreen underneath your makeup to ensure protection. A moisturising sunscreen like We Are Feel Good Inc is a good choice and should also be applied to the backs of hands and forearms if exposed, as well as the all-important décolletage. These areas are not usually suited to make up.
Why is it so important to apply sunscreen every day?
Sun damage to our skin is both acute (sunburn) and accumulative. It’s this daily accumulative damage that leads to the premature ageing of our skin, as well as some skin cancers. If you want to avoid both, cover exposed areas every day!
Should we apply more than once a day?
Australia’s rigorous testing of sunscreens does not allow claims of being effective over 4 hours. However, quality sunscreens will still be on your skin unless washed or rubbed off. So in settings where you are not sweating or likely to wash off your sunscreen you will still have protection beyond 4 hours. However, most of us would need to reapply to the hands if going outside at lunch time in summer for longer than 10 minutes or so. I would also re-apply if heading to the beach after work.
Is it necessary to apply even on a rainy winter day?
Any time the UV index is above 3, you should be wearing sunscreen. Up to 80% of the sun’s ray and UV light can pass through cloud cover. So if outside for extended periods in winter, even if there is some rain cover up or use sunscreen as you will be getting skin damage without feeling the heat. Certainly we should all be wearing sunscreen for winter sports and reapplying at half time!
I work in an office, should I still wear sunscreen?
If you are sitting near windows, even if tinted, yes you should. Windows let through at least 50% UV light, so not much protection there. Also be aware that fluorescent lights emit UV radiation, so even away from windows you will be getting some UV damage to your skin. As mentioned above, if you are leaving the office for periods of time and will be exposed then yes. Don’t forget to cover when driving, especially the face, neck and backs of hands and forearms.