Use sunscreen

Always use a broad-spectrum, water resistant, sunscreen of at least SPF30.

Sunscreen is a lotion, spray or gel that absorbs some of the sun's UV radiation from reaching our skin.

When used in combination with other methods of protection such as wearing clothing (including a wide-brimmed hat and close fitting sunglasses) and sitting in shade, sunscreen will help protect against sunburn. 

If our skin is exposed to UV radiation for too long it will become sunburnt. For many of us, our sunburnt skin will look pink, or even red, and may be painful to touch.

No matter how high the sunscreen's Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is, some of the sun's UV radiation can reach our skin.

Read DermNet's information on sunburn.

Apply sunscreen

Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and again when you’ve been outside for 10 to 20 minutes.

Use a ‘two coat’ approach.

Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and again when you’ve been outside for 10 to 20 minutes.

Applying two ‘coats’ of sunscreen:

  • helps cover up areas you may have missed on your first application
  • gives you a thicker, more protective, layer of sunscreen.

Use lots of ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen

How much sunscreen do you need if you’re an average-sized adult? You need about seven teaspoons of sunscreen for one full body application.

You should apply about half a teaspoon of sunscreen to:

  • your face
  • your ears
  • your neck.

You should apply about one teaspoon of sunscreen to:

  • each leg
  • each arm
  • the front of your body
  • the back of your body.

Read more on sunscreens from Consumer NZ.

UV radiation from the sun has UVA and UVB rays that reach the earth. Both types can cause damage to your skin and eyes.

Choose a broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen of at least SPF30. Broad-spectrum sunscreen reduces the intensity of both UVA and UVB rays. No sunscreen provides 100% protection from UV radiation.

Learn more about UV radiation.

Babies need sun protection

Babies' skin is very fragile so try to keep them out of direct sunlight. This is especially important between 10am and 4pm from September to April.

For babies that are moving, try to cover up as much skin as possible and keep them in the shade.

We recommend you test any sunscreen on a small patch of skin before using regularly.

Reapply sunscreen often

Reapply your sunscreen every two hours, as well as after swimming or sweating.

Reapply your sunscreen every two hours, as well as after swimming or sweating.

Even if your sunscreen says it’s water resistant and will give you four hours of protection, reapply every two hours.

Check the use-by date

Check your sunscreen's label to confirm it isn’t past its use-by date (expired).

Store properly

Store your sunscreen according to the label's instructions.

As a guide, do not store your sunscreen:

  • in direct sunlight, such as on a window ledge
  • where it can warm up quickly, such as in the glove box in your car.

Watch the time

Sunscreen helps reduce exposure to UV radiation, but that’s all. It should not be used to increase the amount of time you can spend in the sun.

If you’re going to be outside whenever the UV index is 3 or above, use all the SunSmart steps to protect yourself – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap.

Check the Sun Protection Alert

The Sun Protection Alert gives you the time each day when you need to protect your skin and eyes.

Find out today’s Sun Protection Alert for your location

Slop it on

The following video shows you how to use sunscreen correctly.

Source: Cancer Council Victoria.

Find out more about how to choose and use sunscreen.

Read some myths and questions about sunscreen.