When the weather heats up, there’s nothing better than hitting the beach for a swim or heading to the park for a picnic. That is, unless you get sunburnt. Australians are still not being cautious enough when it comes to sun protection on these warm summer weekends. In research conducted by the Cancer Council over 2016 and 2017, it was found that over 2.7 million adults still get sunburnt on summer weekends.
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Everyone knows that they should be slip, slop, slapping but the stats don’t lie – Aussies are still getting burnt. Why? “The main mistake is in the application of sunscreens, of all types and rating. The product should be applied ~20 minutes before exposure to the sun, to allow the formation of a homogeneous film on the skin, and provide correct, even protection,” says Dr. Spada. “The appropriate thickness and evenness are crucial for achieving the SPF listed on the product. The amount required is 2 mg/cm2, which is the thickness SPF is tested at, and equates to one whole teaspoon of sunscreen to cover the face and neck area.”
And if you’re out in the sun and have a feeling you might already be getting burnt? “Once the skin has received damage and the signs are clearly detectable, the best thing to do is to get out of the sun, if possible,” says Dr. Spada. “Shade is recommended, but there is a lot of reflective surfaces outdoors that still project a considerable amount of UV radiation. Staying indoors and cooling down is the best way to stop damage and start addressing any erythema that may appear.”
Your ideal daily sun protection
“Applying the highest SPF protection everyday is essential, however if our daily activities take us outside in the sun for a considerable part of the day, applying a sunscreen once in the morning is not enough,” explains Dr. Spada. “The recommendation is to reapply every 2 hours, since the protective film must maintain critical thickness and homogeneity throughout the exposure time. While sunscreens are a fundamental protection factor, appropriate clothing such as wide brim hat, long sleeves and sunglasses are also part of the best strategy to minimize skin damage. While sunscreens are well developed and thoroughly tested, they are not complete sunblocks, and all the appropriate recommendations should be followed.”
The best and quickest ways to reduce sunburn redness
“As sunburn is an inflammatory reaction to sun damage, reducing the inflammation and maintaining skin barrier functions are paramount. A good aftersun product such as SunSense Aftersun Gel or Spray are well suited for tired skin that appears stressed and red. Containing anti-oxidants Vitamin C and E, as well as Grape Seed polyphenols, it contributes to restoring the proper functions of the skin and helps to reduce further moisture loss, re-hydrating the skin,” explains Dr. Spada. “If the sunburn is considerable, Dermaid spray is a quick way to address the inflammation with hydrocortisone in a convenient form. Being a dissolved form of hydrocortisone, its action is quick and will allow to move past the inflammatory stage to start applying a moisturizing product, which will improve or restore proper barrier functions, which may have been impaired by UV exposure.”