Spray-on sunscreen used incorrectly


The Cancer Council no longer recommends the use of aerosol sunscreens, its CEO says

Professor Sancha Aranda told reporters yesterday that Australians continue to use sunscreen incorrectly – to the point where the Council suggests they stick to creams, rather than spray-on products.

“We’ve identified in our own work that Australians are not using them correctly, and particularly when they’re outdoors or in the wind, it’s much harder to get the [correct] amount,” Prof Aranda says.

“People seem to be using them a bit like a mosquito repellent, whereas you’re still trying to get exactly the same amount on as you would with a cream sunscreen.

“If you are going to continue to use an aerosol, make sure that you get that amount on and rub it in as you would a normal sunscreen.”

Australians are increasing their use of sunscreen, but Prof Aranda warns that many tend to view the product as a “suit of armour” against the sun, instead of as one of a suite of protective strategies.

Coupled with the incorrect use, it’s no wonder about 17% of Australian adults are still reporting being burned on the weekends, she says.

Sunscreen should be applied liberally and evenly to clean skin: about 5mL for each arm or leg, the back and the face (including neck and ears), she says: about 35mL for somebody who plans to spend time outdoors in a bathing suit.

“It’s a lot of sunscreen,” she says.

“Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before you go outside, and this is in order to create the intended protective barrier. The sunscreen ingredients, the active ingredients sit in a liquid emulsion and this needs to evaporate off before you go outside.

“So if you pop sunscreen on and jump straight in the pool, you’re just wasting your money… the active ingredients will all just come off.”

The product should also be reapplied every two hours, or more often if the user is engaging in activities which make them sweat, or drying off with a towel after a swim – regardless of what the packaging might say.

“Four hours water resistance is a laboratory test and it doesn’t account for things like sweating and other activities,” she warns.

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