Sun protection

New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer rates in the world.  There is a big ozone hole above us.  If you live here, or visiting this part of the world It is crucial that you wear appropriate sun protection every day, including in winter and on cloudy days.  Sand, snow and water all reflect sunlight and amplify the harmful radiation that gets to you.  Even in the USA where the risk of skin cancer is considered much lower, the lifetime risk of skin cancer is still about 1 in 5.

The most effective sun protection is long sleeved clothing, hats and sunglasses, but in addition, a really good sunscreen is essential.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you use sunscreen every day that you go outside.  When choosing and using a sunscreen the main factors to consider are:

  1. Broadspectrum – ensure the sunscreen covers both UVA and UVB.  Products that contain avobenzone have the best UVA protection.
  2. High SPF.  A minimum of 30, but usually the higher the better.
  3. High water resistance.  Most sunscreens will wash of in water and come off with sweat.  In general you need to reapply once every 1-2 hours.
  4. You need to use about 1 shot glass worth (30-50mls)  to cover your skin
  5. If using a spray on sunscreen make sure to spray an adequate amount and rub it in to ensure even coverage.  To avoid inhaling spray sunscreen, never spray it around or near the face or mouth, instead spraying the sunscreen into your hands and then apply.