Sun safety: Australian experts reveal the exact amount of sunscreen needed for total protection

Sun safety: Australian experts reveal the exact amount of sunscreen needed for total protection

Adults should be rubbing seven teaspoons of sunscreen over their bodies every two hours to protect skin from harmful UV rays, experts have revealed.

That’s the summertime message from product reviewers at Australian consumer advice company CHOICE, who crunched numbers to determine the precise amount of sunscreen needed for total protection. 

For the average adult, the recommended amount of sunscreen per application equates to 35mL or seven teaspoons.

The equivalent of one teaspoon should be applied to the head and neck, two teaspoons for the torso, and one for each arm and leg to reduce the risk of sunburn, sun spots, wrinkles and skin cancer.

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For the average adult, the recommended amount of sunscreen per application equates to 35mL or seven teaspoons (stock image)

For the average adult, the recommended amount of sunscreen per application equates to 35mL or seven teaspoons (stock image)

Failure to apply enough sunscreen or forgetting to reapply after swimming or exercising can result in sunburn as the product is loses its effectiveness.

And because Australia has one of the harshest and hottest summer climates in the world, CHOICE experts say it’s not enough to simply ‘slip, slop slap’ when the mercury rises.

Wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat as well as sitting in the shade when the sun is at it’s peak between midday and 3pm is crucial for total protection.

‘Most sunscreen failure is down to human error – the best sunscreen in the world won’t work if you don’t use it properly,’ CHOICE experts wrote in a blog post.

Specific types of sunscreen can also be bought for children and toddlers, but it’s advisable to keep babies out of the sun as much as possible for the first 12 months of their lives.

If sun exposure is unavoidable, it’s recommended to have a hat, clothing and shade in addition to wearing sunscreen if the UV index is three or more.

‘If you’re trying a new sunscreen and have sensitive skin, do a patch test on your inner arm and leave it for 24 hours to see if there’s any reaction,’ CHOICE said.

Top tips for applying sunscreen

* Put it on clean, dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before you go out in the sun to allow it time to interact with your skin. Re-apply it just before you go out – you’ll increase the amount applied and be more likely to get the stated SPF benefit.

* Cover all parts of the body not protected by clothing (don’t forget your ears, the back of your neck, the backs of your hands and the tops of your feet).

* Apply it evenly, and don’t rub it in excessively – most sunscreens will absorb into the outer layer of skin and don’t need to be rubbed in vigorously.

* Re-apply at least once every two hours and after swimming or exercise.

* Think beyond the beach and pool – use sunscreen whenever you go outdoors for a significant amount of time, such as to the park, a lunchtime walk to the shops, playing sports or gardening.

* Store your sunscreen at a temperature of less than 30 degrees Celsius. If you leave it in the glovebox of your car or in the sun, it may lose its effectiveness. Keep it in the esky with the drinks, in the shade or wrapped in a towel.

* Don’t use sunscreens that have passed their expiry date as they may have lost their effectiveness.

Source: Choice

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The equivalent of one teaspoon should be applied onto the head and neck, two teaspoons for the torso, one for each arm and one for each leg (stock image)

The equivalent of one teaspoon should be applied onto the head and neck, two teaspoons for the torso, one for each arm and one for each leg (stock image)

Inexpensive yet effective sunscreen can be bought at chemists, pharmacies, department stores, supermarkets and independent retailers across Australia.

Coles home brand starts from just $2.75 while sunscreen from the Australian Cancer Council costs $5.

Sydney doctor Sam Saling told Bed Threads that while some sunlight exposure is beneficial to boost vitamin D levels, too much can be detrimental both long and short term. 

A wide range of health issues arise when the skin becomes sunburnt, including dehydration, fatigue and headaches, as well as inflammation, redness and peeling.

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