Ever been confused by all the sunscreen choices out there? We have. But University of Queensland/Princess Alexandra Hospital researchers, Erin McMeniman and Katie Lee, have set out the four major things to look for when choosing the right sunscreen for you.
The sun protection factor, or SPF, should be at least 30, preferably 50. What the SPF factor means is how much ultraviolet rays get to your skin. If it's SPF30, it's 1/30th; SPF50 1/50th, thus giving you enhanced protection.
Go for broad spectrum protection. What this means is find a sunscreen that gives you ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB) protection. While UVB rays are responsible for most sunburn and DNA damage, UVA rays can also accelerate skin ageing and cause DNA damage.
Aim for water resistant formulations. When you're wearing sunscreen, chances are you're swimming or sweating! No sunscreen is completely waterproof, but look for one which stays on longer.
Finally, make sure the sunscreen is approved in Australia. Remember the old marketing slogan about 'Australian cars for Australian conditions'? The same holds for sunscreen and even more so. Approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the final must-have, according to Erin and Katie. All sunscreens for sale in Australia must meet the TGA’s requirements and carry an AUST number on the packaging. Sunscreens bought overseas do not necessarily offer the same level of protection.
Want to know more? Check out the Australasian College of Dermatologists Position Statement on Sun Protection and Sunscreens.