Cancer Council Australia

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Preventing skin cancer



Protect your skin

For best protection, we recommend a combination of sun protection measures:

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  2. Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  3. Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
  4. Seek shade.
  5. Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.

Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide - Sid the Seagull Video



UV Index

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the invisible killer that you can't see or feel. UV radiation can be high even on cool and overcast days. This means you can't rely on clear skies or high temperatures to determine when you need to protect yourself from the sun.

The UV Index is reported daily by the Bureau of Meteorology. The alert identifies times during the day when the UV level is 3 or above and sun protection is needed.

As well as appearing on the Bureau of Meteorology website, the alert is published in the weather section of daily newspapers, on Cancer Council Australia's home page and as an app for smartphones.

Download the SunSmart app for iOS or Android keep track of the UV levels throughout the day.

SunSmart UV app


Applying sunscreen

Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before exposure to UV in order to create the intended protective barrier. It should be applied liberally and evenly to clean and dry skin.

For an adult, the recommended application is 5ml (approximately one teaspoon) for each arm, leg, body front, body back and face (including neck and ears). That equates to a total of 35ml (approximately seven teaspoons) for a full body application.
Sunscreen should always be reapplied at least every two hours, irrespective of the water resistance of the sunscreen. Swimming, sport, sweating and towel drying can reduce the effectiveness of the product, so sunscreen should always be reapplied after these activities.

Cancer Council Sunscreen

Browse for and buy suncreen from the Cancer Council Shop today


Sun protection and babies

It is important to ensure that babies are well protected from the sun. Childhood sun exposure contributes significantly to the lifetime risk of skin cancer, and babies’ skin can burn easily.

Cancer Council recommends keeping babies away from direct sunlight as much as possible when UV levels are 3 or above. Plan daily activities to ensure the baby is well protected from the sun and aim to minimise time outside when UV levels are at their strongest.

When this is not possible, ensure that babies are protected from the sun by shade, protective clothing and a hat. Check the baby’s clothing, hat and shade positioning regularly to ensure he/she continues to be well protected from UV.

The widespread use of sunscreen on babies under six months is not generally recommended.

Some parents may choose to use sunscreen occasionally on small parts of their baby’s skin – if that’s the case parents should be careful to choose a sunscreen that is suitable for babies  - they may wish to seek the advice of a doctor or pharmacist. Sunscreens for babies usually use reflecting ingredients such as zinc and avoid ingredients and preservatives that may cause reactions in young skin. It’s also important to patch test first.

For more information

How you can help

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  • volunteering your time
  • participating in an event or
  • making a donation to help fund our cancer research, education and support services.

This page was last updated on: Monday, October 23, 2017

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