- On November 28, 2015
World first Australian research has revealed that “cooking” your sunscreen can reduce its effectiveness by up to 40 per cent.
“This highlights the need for Australians to throw out their old sunscreen and buy new sunscreen every summer to ensure good protection from the sun,” AMA (NSW) President, Dr Saxon Smith, said.
“The research was conducted by Ego Pharmaceuticals and the results were surprising.
“We knew that storing sunscreen at temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius causes it to degrade but it shocked everybody that it can drop by as much as 40 per cent.
“In the lab, we deliberately cooked sunscreen in conditions that would replicate leaving it in the car or in direct sunlight on the beach on a hot day, over the duration of summer.
“It only took three weeks under these extreme heat conditions to nearly cut the sunscreen’s SPF in half.
“Unless you’ve been following the instructions on the label of your sunscreen, the stuff you bought last year may only be about half as effective now.
“Sunscreen can burn out if not stored correctly – to get the best protection, you need to have fresh sunscreen every summer,” Dr Smith said.
“Australians should be wearing sunscreen every day and ensuring we heed all the other sun safe messaging: wear a hat, protective clothing, sunglasses, and seek shade at peak UV times.
“Not just in summer but every day of the year.
“All UV exposure increases your lifetime risk of developing skin cancer and we know Australia has the worst record in the word when it comes to incidence of the disease.
“We also know that 95 per cent of skin cancer is preventable,” Dr Smith said.
“My own research shows that most Australians don’t know how much sunscreen they should be wearing and rarely re-apply it every two hours.
“If you’re going to the beach, an adult needs approximately 40mL for whole body protection – that’s two tablespoons.
“Especially when you’re swimming or sweating, you need to be re-applying your sunscreen every two hours.
“So, make sure you apply enough sunscreen, re-apply it every two hours, ensure you have SPF 50+ broadband sunscreen, and make sure you get a fresh bottle this summer, then store it as advised on the label” Dr Smith said.
If you need more information on the use of sunscreen, AMA (NSW) has set up a sunscreen website at sunscreen.amansw.com.au
Dr Kerryn Greive (PhD), Scientific Affairs Manager for SunSense shared her tips on getting the most out of your sunscreen:
- Always store your sunscreen as advised on the label, sunscreen over SPF 15 in Australia is listed as a medicine and should be treated as one.
- Never leave your sunscreen in your car or glove box as temperatures can rise to over 70 degrees on a hot day. When out and about keep sunscreen in your bag away from direct sunlight.
- Always choose a sunscreen with a high SPF. SPF 50+ is the highest available in Australia and will offer the best protection from UV damage.
Media contact: Lachlan Jones (02) 9902 8113 / 0419 402 955