When it comes to sunscreen, you probably think you know everything you need to about it. Just pick the one with the highest number and you’re good to go – right?
Wrong! We’ve put together 13 interesting facts about sunscreen you should know before you start stocking up for the summer sunshine.
No Sunscreen Is Waterproof
Manufacturers may no longer advertise their products as “Waterproof” simply because no sunscreen is actually waterproof.
Instead they may label their products as “Water Resistant”, which may be effective for up to 40 minutes in water, or “Very Water Resistant”, for up to 80 minutes in water.
So if you see a sunscreen described as waterproof, sunblock or sweat proof, think twice.
What Does SPF Actually Mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which is a measure that indicates how much protection the product provides against UV radiation. The scale runs from a factor 2 to 50 or beyond, basically giving an indication of how long you may be able to stay in the sun without your skin starting to redden or burn.
For instance, if your skin normally starts to burn (turn red) after 20 minutes’ exposure to the sun, factor 15 will provide you 300 minutes of exposure before you start to burn.
Most people may not be aware that there are two types Ultraviolet Rays (UV) – UVA and UVB. Both cause skin damage, contributing to a higher risk of skin cancer and melanoma.
UVA rays penetrate deep beneath the skin causing severe sunburn, speeding up the ageing process, and can also penetrate through glass. This means you can still burn inside your car or indoors too.
UVB rays are blocked by glass but cause damage to the skin’s surface. The answer would be to use a broad spectrum sunscreen, which will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
Higher SPF Doesn’t Always Mean Better Sunscreen
Although the SPF does indicate a certain level of protection, the differences between the higher numbers of SPF are not as significant as the index numbers suggest.
A sunscreen with a 30 SPF blocks out 96.7% of the UVB radiation, while one with an SPF of 50, blocks out 98% of UVB, a meagre 1.3% more protection! The price difference however may be considerably more.
Sunscreen Alone Is Not Enough Protection
Studies carried out by NASA clearly show that although the ozone layer, the earth’s natural sunscreen, is busy recovering, after the ban on CFCs in 1989, it still does not provide the earth with as much protection against the sun’s UV rays, as it did in the past. This means that we are being exposed to more powerful UV rays, increasing the risk of skin cancers and melanomas.
This also means that sunscreen alone may not be providing us with enough protection. The wearing of protective clothing, such as long sleeves, long pants, wide brim hats and sunglasses is strongly recommended alongside using sunscreen.
Avoid being outdoors during the middle of the day, when the sun’s rays are more intense. Weather reports usually include the UV index for your particular area. Anything above seven is considered as high risk and dangerous. You should be aware of your immediate surroundings too, as reflection in sand, water and snow, can increase exposure considerably.
Sunscreen Has An Expiry Date
This is no marketing ploy – sunscreens lose their strength over time and really do expire after 3 years.
Older products should be discarded as well as any showing any colour or consistency change.
Sunscreen Is Safe
Extensive studies done worldwide, have proven that unless you swallow it, sunscreens are considered 100% safe.
The risk of not wearing sunscreen however, is far too great.
Do Babies Need Sunscreen?
Doctors’ opinions vary, but generally doctors recommend avoiding sunscreen in babies under 6 months. However, it’s best to consult your own doctor if you have concerns for your baby’s sun safety.
Young babies can have super sensitive skins so its recommended to keep them out of the sun as much as possible and well protected at all times with long sleeves and sun protection hats. At Tic Tas Togs we have a cute range of long sleeve nappy-change swimwear suitable for babies and toddlers.
If using sunscreen on your baby, it may be an idea to first test it on a small area on their body to see if there is any reaction.
How Much Sunscreen Should You Apply?
Follow the general rule of 1 teaspoon and 1 shot - a teaspoon full should be sufficient for one’s face, while a shot glass full should be enough to cover the rest of the body.
Always choose to be more liberal with your sunscreen than not.
Storage Is Key To Sunscreen Effectiveness
Heat and sunlight can cause sunscreens to deteriorate faster and become less effective. Therefore, they should always be stored indoors in a cool place. Do not leave it in your car – especially over summer!
Reapplication is Crucial
Swimming, sweating and drying off with a towel reduces the level of protection your sunscreen offers.
Reapplication at least every two hours is strongly recommended no matter what SPF you use.
Sunscreen Isn’t Just For Sunny Days
Clouds only filter out 20% of the sun’s UV rays, meaning that the risk of sunburn can be worse on cloudy days, as you may be burning without feeling the heat.
Always use sunscreen when outdoors, even if you don’t think it’s sunny enough to warrant it.
Be Allergy Aware When It Comes To Your Sunscreen Choice
People with sensitive skins or prone to allergies are advised to use allergy sensitive products.
Different brands have different ingredients, so it’s best to find one that works for you and stick to it. You can also ask your doctor to make a recommendation of a certain brand or ingredients to avoid if you or anyone in your family has sensitive skin.
Reef Safe Sunscreen
You may have heard the term ‘reef safe’ sunscreen but what does this actually mean? If you check the active ingredients on any sunscreen label, look out for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are mineral UV-blocking ingredients which form an actual block to shield the skin and prevent it from absorbing UVA and UVB rays.
‘Reef friendly’ is sometimes included in a sunscreen’s description but this is not regulated and can’t always indicate it is actually safe for reefs. It’s best to check the active ingredients to confirm whether a sunscreen is reef safe.
We hope you’ve found these interesting facts about sunscreen useful. If you want to keep your kids protected while they swim, shop our range of children’s sun protection swimwear now.