It’s SPRING! The weather is beginning to warm up and in 3 months time, we”ll be heading into the scorching Australian summer. Sadly, Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. It’s frightening to see that more than 430,000 Australians are treated for skin cancers every year, with around 1600 deaths from melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.
We all need to be extra vigilant with protecting our skin from the sun when participating in outdoor activities. This includes wearing protective clothing, slapping on a hat and applying the right sunscreen. When shopping for a sunscreen, we are normally faced with selecting between:
1. SPF15 sunscreen
2. SPF30 sunscreen
3. SPF50 sunscreen
But what exactly does the sun protection factor (SPF) mean???
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and it is a ratio which measures the amount of radiation which causes redness in skin when sunscreen is applied. So back to our main question – does an SPF30 sunscreen mean twice the protection as an SPF15 sunscreen?
The answer is NO.
In a controlled laboratory, SPF30 sunscreen allows transmission of 3.4% of UV radiation. In other words, it blocks 96.6 percent of the UV radiation. On the other hand, an SPF15 sunscreen will block out approximately 93% of the UV radiation. These percentages are just a guide and in reality away from a controlled laboratory test, these figures will vary according to your skin type, the weather and the time of day.
As a general guideline, if you have fair skin, it is best to go for a sunscreen with SPF30 or higher broad spectrum water resistant sun protection. Make sure to use a broad spectrum sunscreen to block out both the harmful UVA and UVB rays. If participating in vigorous outdoor activities, Reapply every 2 hours
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