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

SunSmart 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 SunSmart 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

Apply sunscreen liberally – at least a teaspoon for each limb, front and back of the body, and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears. Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen resulting in only 50-80% of the protection stated on the product.

Cancer Council Sunscreen
Browse for and buy suncreen from the Cancer Council Shop today

Sun protection and babies

It is important to ensure infants are well protected from the sun. Childhood sun exposure contributes significantly to your lifetime risk of skin cancer, and babies’ skin is sensitive and can burn easily. Plan daily activities to minimise time outside during the middle hours of the day during the summer period when UV levels are at their strongest.

Whenever UV Index levels reach three and above, Cancer Council Australia recommends using a combination of sun protection measures, including to:

  • Slip on clothing that covers as much of the infant’s skin as possible.
  • Slop on broad spectrum water resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above to any small areas of skin that cannot be protected by clothing.
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire style hat so the infant’s face, neck and ears are protected.
  • Seek shade. Make use of any available full shade and provide shade for the infant’s pram, stroller or play area.
  • Slide on some sunglasses, if practical, to protect the eyes.

There is no evidence that using sunscreen on babies is harmful, although some babies may develop minor skin irritation. Try sunscreen milks or creams for sensitive skin which are less likely to irritate the skin. As with all products, use of any sunscreen should cease if any unusual reaction occurs.

For further information please read or position statement on sun protection and infants (0-12 months) and tinted windows.

If you require further information about skin cancer prevention call Cancer Council 13 11 20 (a local call from anywhere in Australia).

For more information

How you can help

You can support Cancer Council by:

  • 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, December 12, 2016