The 6 Most Common Questions I’m Asked About Sunscreen.

Hellen Keller once said “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow”. 

Keep doing this and you will see wrinkles, sagging skin, pigmentation and skin cancers.

Ahhhh, the love hate relationship that humans have with the sun. The permeating warmth of the sun on our skin in summer is wondrous. It’s essential for vitamin D synthesis and has amazing mood benefits. However, the damaging effects of UV radiation are known all too well in this country. 

Sunburn, pigmentation, skin cancers - thanks UVB!

Photo-aging - that’s wrinkles and sagging - thanks UVA!

Summer is essentially upon us so it’s only prudent to take a refresher course on sun safety. Here’s 6 of the most common questions I’m asked surrounding sunscreen.

1 - Do I need sunscreen on a cloudy day?

YES. 80% of UV radiation passes through clouds.


2 - Dark skin doesn’t need sunscreen, does it?

YES. I have this conversation with a lot of patients with darker skin types who, although they don’t sunburn readily are still as susceptible to UVA radiation which is the one that ages us!!


3 - Should I use an organic (chemical) sunscreen or an inorganic (physical) sunscreen?

Something is better than nothing. I wear sunscreen on my face, neck and hands year round - rain hail or shine. It’s the best anti-aging bottle in my cupboard.

I like the micronized and nanonized Zinc preparations.

Zinc is great because it’s:

  • Stable

  • Low irritating and fine for acne prone skin

  • Doesn’t rub or sweat off too easily

  • Protects against all types of UV


4 - What SPF should I use?

SPF 15 is fine for general daywear. Be careful if you’re using combined makeup/sunscreen or moisturizer/sunscreen that you put enough on and it covers against both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum).

SPF 30 or higher is needed for fun in the Aussie sun though.


5 - How much should I put on?

Studies have shown that we put on about 25-50% of sunscreen that we actually need. Assuming everyone wears a cossie an average person needs 6-9 teaspoons to cover their body with the recommended thickness, applied 15mins before sun and re-applied every 2 hours.


6 - Can UV get though my car window?

YES. UVB doesn’t penetrate but UVA, the photo-ager does which is why eventually we all get more wrinkles and pigmentation on the right side of your faces! Think about tinting your car windows as this can help or have a sunscreen bottle handy in the car.


Thanks for reading and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions on this or any other topic for maintaining beautiful skin.

Dr Rachel