Slop on sunscreen

Always use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 30.


Sunscreen is a lotion, spray or gel that forms a protective barrier on our bodies. It absorbs or reflects some of the sun's UV radiation (rays) that go through our skin's surface.

When used in combination with other methods of protection such as wearing clothing (including a wide-brimmed hat and close-fitting sunglasses) and sitting in shade, sunscreen will help protect against sunburn. Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap

If our skin is exposed to UV radiation for too long it will become sunburnt. For many of us, our sunburnt skin will look pink, or even red, and may be painful to touch.

No matter how high the sunscreen's Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is, some of the sun's UV radiation can reach our skin.

Read DermNet's information on sunburn.

Apply Sunscreen

Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside.

Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside.

Reapply at least every two hours - or more often if you have been swimming or sweating.

You need to apply more than you think.

 

Use lots of ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen

How much sunscreen do you need if you’re an average-sized adult? You need about seven teaspoons (35 mL) of sunscreen for one full body application.

You should apply about one teaspoon of sunscreen to:

  • your face, ears and neck
  • each leg
  • each arm
  • the front of your body
  • the back of your body.

UV radiation from the sun has UVA and UVB rays that reach the earth. Both types can cause damage to your skin and eyes.

Learn more about UV radiation.

Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF30. Broad-spectrum sunscreen reduces the intensity of both UVA and UVB rays. No sunscreen provides 100% protection from UV radiation, however, a sunscreen with SPF30 will protect you from around 96.7% of UVB rays. 

Babies need protecting from the sun

Babies' skin is very fragile so try to keep them out of direct sunlight. This is especially important between 10am and 4pm from September to April.

Babies should be protected by shade, clothing and broad-brimmed hats. 

Sunscreen should only be used on small areas of a baby's skin and should not be the only form of protection from the sun.

If you do use sunscreen on a baby make sure it is labelled for sensitive skin or suitable for children. 

Do a 'patch test' before applying a new sunscreen. Apply a small amount of sunscreen on the inside of the forearm for a few days to check if the skin reacts, before applying it to the rest of the body. If any unusual reaction occurs, such as skin redness, swelling, itching or blistering, stop using the product and see your doctor.  Some people can also develop an allergic reaction to sunscreen after repeated use. 

We don't recommend use of sunscreen on babies under six months. They should be kept in the shade as much as possible.

Reapply sunscreen often

Reapply your sunscreen every two hours, as well as after swimming or sweating.

Reapply your sunscreen every two hours, as well as after swimming or sweating.

Even if your sunscreen says it’s water resistant and will give you four hours of protection, reapply every two hours.

Check the use-by date

Check your sunscreen's label to confirm it isn’t past its use-by date (expired). Expired sunscreen won't protect you. 

Store properly

Store your sunscreen according to the label's instructions.

As a guide, store your sunscreen:

  • away from direct sunlight
  • in a cool, dark place. 

Watch the time

Sunscreen helps reduce exposure to UV radiation, but that’s all. It should not be used to increase the amount of time you can spend in the sun.

If you’re going to be outside whenever the UV index is 3 or above, use all the SunSmart steps to protect yourself – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap.

Check the Sun Protection Alert

The Sun Protection Alert gives you the time each day when you need to protect your skin and eyes.

Find out today’s Sun Protection Alert for your location

How to apply sunscreen

Sunscreen FAQs

Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF30. Once you’ve found a sunscreen that’s suitable, try a few (you can ask for samples) and find one you like (and are more likely to use).

Not all sunscreens are broad spectrum. Broad spectrum provides protection against both types of harmful UV radiation (UVA and UVB) by providing a barrier that absorbs or reflects UV radiation before it can damage the skin.

Yes. Don’t rely on that bottle or tube that’s in your cupboard. Check the date on the container to make sure it hasn’t expired.

If you’ve stored the sunscreen in a car’s glove box, or anywhere else it can get hot, it might not work as well as it should.

The problem is usually not the product, but how you use it.

Make sure you use enough sunscreen. The average sized adult needs about seven teaspoons of sunscreen for one full body application. Put sunscreen on thickly 20 minutes before you go outside and reapply it every two hours, as well as after swimming or sweating.

Also be sure to check that your sunscreen meets the Australian and New Zealand Standard. Look on the label for the message 'complies with AS/NZS 2604' or something similar. Australian sunscreen sold in NZ may only have a 5 digit number that looks like 'L 12345'. This information means that the sunscreen ingredients meet requirements and will provide protection. 

In addition to using sunscreen, seek shade and wear SunSmart clothing (including a wide-brimmed hat and close fitting sunglasses). Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap.

Yes. Sunscreen helps protect against UV damage (sunburn and tanning), as well as helping prevent skin cancer. Use sunscreen on uncovered skin. Slip into shade and wear SunSmart clothing (including a wide-brimmed hat and close fitting sunglasses). Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap.