19 Dec

Sunlight & Sunscreen Myths

Sunlight in the correct amount is essential, as it is our main source of vitamin D.

Not only does sunlight play a role in improving mood, it protects us from bacteria, and improves quality of sleep. Just 5 minutes of summer sun exposure to the hands and face is all that is required to maintain normal vitamin D levels.

However, as we look forward to the great New Zealand summer holiday, we do need to protect ourselves from the harm caused by our powerful summer sun.  New Zealand has some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. 

What is sunlight made of?

Sunlight contains:

  • Visible light
  • Infra-red light 
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation containing UVA and UVB rays

UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer whereas UVB will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin.

Both UVA & UVB damage the skin causing sunburn, premature aging, altering skin pigmentation (moles and freckles) and can cause skin cancers and melanoma.

Sunscreens contain a mixture of substances that either reflect UV radiation or absorb and inactivate UV radiation.  It’s best to use broad-spectrum sunscreens – those that protect against both UVA and UVB. 

SPF 30 versus SPF 50

The SPF factor is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to protect your skin.  The higher the SPF factor, the higher the protection. But be aware when checking out SPFs as it can be misleading, and confusing! For example, SPF 30 does not block twice as many rays as SPF 15.  

Here’s how the SPFs compare in blocking UVB rays:

  • SPF 15 blocks 93%
  • SPF 30 blocks 97%
  • SPF 50 blocks 98%

So, the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is only about 1% added protection.

Physical or chemical sunscreen?

People who have more sensitive skin should consider using a sunscreen like Invisible Zinc® which uses naturally derived zinc oxide. This creates a physical (rather than a chemical) sunscreen, so is free from irritating chemicals and is suitable for the whole family, including children.

Be generous!

It’s common for too little sunscreen to be applied and for patches of skin to be missed.  For the average adult, six teaspoons (or 2 tablespoons) of sunscreen is required to properly protect the skin.

  • Put on sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going out in the sun, giving it time to bind to the skin
  • Reapply after 30 minutes to ensure a full, even coverage – just as you would when you paint anything
  • Reapply every 2 hours, or after swimming, toweling off or sweating heavily 
  • Insect repellents can reduce a sunscreen’s SPF, so when using the two products together re-apply more often 
  • Don’t forget to cover up with a hat, protective clothing, and sunglasses
  • Avoid prolonged high-risk sun exposure, and stay in the shade where possible

Get your medicines from ZOOM

Take one more thing of your To-Do List this summer. ZOOM Pharmacy makes managing your meds really easy. Prescription meds are delivered direct to your door, repeats organised for you, no more queuing at pharmacy.

Call 0508966622 Monday to Friday 7AM-6PM to speak to a ZOOM Pharmacist and find out more about our great FREE medicines sachet pack service for patients on four meds or more.