The five SunSmart steps

Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide

The five SunSmart steps
The five SunSmart steps
Save your skin

Did you know that two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetimes?  Or that less than half of Australian men make sun protection part of their daily routine, despite being twice as likely to die from melanoma?

The good news is that skin cancer is almost entirely preventable, and you can reduce your risk of skin cancer at any age by following the five SunSmart steps. 

A white and yellow icon on a blue background, representing the sun and a lounger beach bed.

How SunSmart are you really?

True or false: "I only need to worry about being sun safe on warm, sunny days."

How to protect your skin in five easy steps

If you grew up in Australia in the last four decades, chances are you will remember the iconic Slip, Slop, Slap campaign that told Australians all about protecting your skin. Its message was to slip on sun protective clothing, slop on water resistant, broad spectrum, SPF30 or higher sunscreen and slap on a broad-brimmed hat. We now know you need two more crucial steps to maximise your sun protection: seek shade and slide on a pair of sunglasses. In fact, seeking shade should always be top of mind on days when UV index is 3 or above

Whether you’re heading to work, for a run, to the beach, or to your mate’s barbeque, make protection a priority.

Sunscreen is not a suit of armour and should be used with the other four sun protection measures.

Take a closer look at the five SunSmart steps:

      1. Slip on sun protective clothing

Choose clothing that covers as much skin as possible (think shirts with long sleeves). Some clothing may carry an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), which is a guarantee of how much UV protection a fabric provides.

      2. Slop on SPF 30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen

Apply sunscreen to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before you go outside. You will need around seven teaspoons of sunscreen for your whole body. One teaspoon for your head and neck, one for each limb, one for the front of your body and one for the back of your body.

Always make sure to re-reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming, towel drying or if you work (or work out) outdoors and are likely to be sweating. And remember, sunscreen is your last line of defence, and should always be used in combination with the other measures.

      3. Slap on a broad-brimmed hat

Choose, a broad-brimmed, legionnaire or bucket style hat which shades your face, nose, neck and ears, which are common sites for skin cancers. Caps and visors do not provide enough protection.

     4. Seek shade

Use trees, built shade structures, or bring your own gazebo or umbrella with a high UPF designed to offer sun protection. Shade reduces UV radiation, but it can still reach you via reflection – especially around water - so make sure you use shade in combination with other sun protection measures.

     5. Slide on some sunglasses

Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat worn together can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98%. Choose close-fitting wraparound sunglasses, that meet Australian Standards.

Illustrated icons, representing the five slip, slop, slap, seek and slide steps.

To understand more about why sun exposure causes skin cancer, visit our no-nonsense UV low-down