Be safe, be sun smart

Be safe, be sun smart

We all try to do the right thing when it comes to being sun smart but the huge range of sunscreen products can sometimes be confusing. Let us help guide you through the sunscreen maze!

When out in the sun we need to protect our skin from the ultraviolet (UV) radiation. There are 2 types of UV radiation, UVA and UVB. Both UVA and UVB can cause skin cancer, skin ageing and wrinkles, but it is the UVB that cause sunburn. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB radiation.

The best protection from UV radiation is clothing, but not all clothing will protect you. If you can see through the fabric, UV radiation may also get through to the skin. Of course, it may not be practical to cover up completely and this is when your next best protection is to use sunscreen.

There are two types of ingredients used in sunscreens: absorbers and reflectors. Absorbers are chemicals that absorb most of the UV and stop it getting into the skin. Ingredients such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and butyl methoxy dibenzoylmethane are chemical absorbers.

Reflectors reflect and scatter the UV radiation away from the skin. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are examples of sunscreen reflectors.

People can experience sensitivities and allergic reactions to sunscreens so if you have sensitive or reactive skin make sure you choose a sunscreen that contains reflectors. Remember, if you buy a new sunscreen brand conduct a patch test on your inner arm and leave it for 24 hours to see if there’s any reaction.

To get the maximum benefit from your sunscreen it is important to ensure you use enough product and that you reapply after sweating, swimming, and drying your body with a towel. As a general rule you should reapply every 2 hours.

It is recommended that you apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun and the correct amount of sunscreen is used. Apply sunscreen generously as an average adult requires a teaspoon amount each for their head and neck, each limb and the front and back of the torso.

Remember a broad-spectrum SPF 50+ sunscreen will give the best protection. If you need some help choosing the correct sunscreen for you and your family, pop into your local National Pharmacies and speak to one of our friendly pharmacists.


Robyn Johns,
National Pharmacies, Pharmacist


The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and should be used as a guide only. This information does not replace or substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before any action is taken based on the content of this webpage.

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