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Jay Koovarjee

 92 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
ph: (02) 9221 0091
fax: (02) 8880-8326

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:: Slip, Slop, Slap, What else?

 Slip, slop, slap

Slip, Slop, SlapMany of you will remember the Slip, Slop, Slap campaign from 1981.  Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. 

Things have changed and this jingle has now been modified to:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards

Exposing your skin to the sun puts you at risk of premature ageing — wrinkles, uneven skin tone, loss of elasticity — and worse, skin cancer. The message is clear: use an effective sunscreen every day. But how much do you really know about sunscreens?

Slip, Slop, Slap, and what?It is mainly the ultra violet rays, UVA and UVB which cause the damage. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, gradually destroying elasticity and causing premature ageing. UVB rays cause skin damage and can alter the structure of skin cells, and ultimately lead to possible skin cancer. UVC rays are the most dangerous but as they are blocked out by the ozone layer, they don't reach the earth's surface. A broad spectrum, SPF30+ sunscreen will help protect against UVA and UVB radiation.

How do sunscreens work?

Sunscreens are filters of UV energy. They are not "blocks".  They are used to filter a proportion of UV rays.  By definition, all types of sunscreen will include active ingredients which either absorb or scatter and reflect UV energy which would otherwise enter the skin and cause severe damage.

Sunscreens are a means to reduce the dose of sunburn you would get if you don’t wear isunscreen. Sunscreen is used to delay this burning affect and to filter the penetration of Ultra Violet activity.

What is SPF?

Sunscreen bottleAccording to Wikipedia, the SPF of a sunscreen is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen - the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UV-B (the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn). The SPF indicates the time a person with sunscreen applied can be exposed to sunlight before getting sunburn relative to the time a person without sunscreen can be exposed. For example, someone who would burn after 12 minutes in the sun would expect to burn after 120 minutes if protected by a sunscreen with SPF 10. In practice, the protection from a particular sunscreen depends on factors such as:

  • The skin type of the user
  • The amount applied and frequency of re-application
  • Activities in which one engages (for example, swimming leads to a loss of sunscreen from the skin)
  • Amount of sunscreen the skin has absorbed

Wear a hatAn SPF 30 product will permit 1/30th of the sunburning energy through it in the same time as it would take to suffer a minimal sunburn without any protection at all.  Sunburn may take hours to actually appear on the skin.

What does broad spectrum mean?

Broad spectrum means it protects from both UVB, the rays that burn, and UVA, the rays that penetrate deep into the layers of the skin and cause premature ageing.

What are the key ingredients in sunscreens?

Many sunscreens contain a combination of chemical and mineral ingredients. These are effective formulas using less chemicals, but are usually cheaper than all-mineral formulas, which are more expensive to produce.

There are two types of sunscreen ingredients:

  1. Chemical absorbers bind to our skin cells and absorb UV energy as it hits the skin. Also known as "organic" sunscreens — the organic referring to the chemical composition of carbon and hydrogen molecules.
  2. Inorganic or mineral sunscreens sit on the skin's surface and work by reflecting UV rays away from the skin. These are made from the minerals zinc or titanium dioxide and are better tolerated by sensitive skins than chemical absorbers.

The latest mineral sunscreens have "micronised formulas", where the minerals have been finely ground, making them invisible when applied.

Common chemical absorbers include:Sunburn

  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (UV filter)
  • Methylbenzylidene camphor (UVB filter)
  • Butyl methoxycinnamate (UVA filter)

Common blockers include:

  • Zinc oxide
  • Titanium dioxide (UVA and UVB filters)Which of the sun's rays actually cause skin cancer?

How and when should I apply sunscreen?

Once you receive a dose of sunburn, no sunscreen or re-application is going to prevent this effect. The Cancer Council Australia recommends keeping babies out of the sun as much as possible for the first 12 months.

To ensure you get the most from your sunscreen:

  • Always apply 20 minutes before going outside, to allow it to settle on your skin
  • Use at least a teaspoon-sized dollop on each arm, leg, front and back of body, and at least half a teaspoon on the face, including the ears and neck
  • Re-apply every two hours, more often if you are swimming or sweating a lot.  A water-resistant sunscreen is recommended when activity is likely to result in heavy sweating or for water sports. Check the label on the product that, along with the SPF, there is a water-resistant claim stating the time for which the product is water-resistant
  • Moisturisers or foundations that have an SPF can be used instead of a sunscreen if you’re not going to spend long periods outdoors. Make-up and moisturisers with SPFs are adequate if you're going to and from the office, for instance, but if you're planning a day at the beach or playing sport, you'll need to apply a sunscreen

If you would like any information about the best sunscreen for you and your family please speak to one of our friendly staff and they will be pleased to help you.

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