Sunscreen is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to protect your skin from sun damage.

In North Queensland, it’s recommended that we all apply sunscreen with SPF30 or higher as part of our morning routine and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.

That might seem like a lot of sunscreen, but the benefits really are priceless:

1. Sunscreen helps prevent sunburn

Unfortunately, many of us know how painful (and embarrassing) sunburn can be. Sunscreen is an important tool to help protect your skin from burning. The sun protection factor (SPF) number is an indication of how much protection a sunscreen offers when applied correctly. If skin with no sunscreen on would burn in 1 minute then a sunscreen rated SPF 50 means that it would take 50 minutes for the same skin to burn. It is important to note that this relies on liberal application and it has been shown that we do not usually apply anywhere near enough sunscreen to meet these requirements, which means we really should be minimising our time in the sun even when wearing high-factor sunscreen.

2. Sunscreen reduces skin cancers

Sunscreen has been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing skin cancers such as Melanoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC); as well as sunspots, which can be a precursor to skin cancers. With more than 1,500 Australians dying from Melanoma every year, it’s well worth taking the time to apply that sunscreen every few hours – it really could save your life!

3. Sunscreen helps your body protect itself from other threats

When our skin is damaged by UV exposure, our cells become less effective at detecting and attacking threats to the immune system. This make it harder for our body to fight off disease and slows the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Applying sunscreen regularly helps protect our skin from UV damage in the first place, so that we can help to keep our immune system in peak condition.

4. Sunscreen is one of the best ways to reduce premature ageing

Sunscreen use is considered to be the most effective way of preventing ageing by helping to maintain skin texture and reduce the development of pimples, visible small blood vessels, pigmented areas such as freckling and fine lines. You can easily incorporate sunscreen into your morning beauty routine by applying it after your moisturiser and before your make-up; and there are now many high-quality facial sunscreens on the market that are made specifically for layering under your foundation.

5. Sunscreen reduces exacerbations of Photodermoses

Photodermoses are skin eruptions that are brought on by UV light. These include Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE), Actinic Prurigo and Xeroderma Pigmentosum – these conditions can cause extremely itchy rashes, extreme sunburn after short sun exposure, freckling, dry skin, and unusual skin pigmentation. Other conditions can also be worsened due to UV light such as Lupus and Rosacea.

How else can you protect against sun damage?

  1. Minimise your exposure to the sun, especially between 10am and 2pm when the sun is at its highest.
  2. Wear sun protective clothing such as long sleeves and trousers, and a wide-brimmed hat that covers your face, neck and ears.
  3. Invest in sunglasses that meet Australian/New Zealand standards to protect your fragile eyes.
  4. Consider UV-protective window tinting for your car if you spend a lot of time travelling.

It’s never too early or too late to start protecting your skin. If you’ve already experienced sun damage, or have skin spots that are causing you concern, it is important that have them checked by a qualified skin cancer professional as soon as possible.