UV Confusion - Do You Know When You Need Sun Protection?

One of the biggest myths about Sun Protection is that we only need it when it's a hot, sunny day. In fact, the worst of the UV rays are still active on a cloudy day!

The Sydney Morning Herald recently published an article stating that new Cancer Council research shows an astonishing 92 per cent of Australians do not know they need to start protecting themselves from the sun's harsh rays when the UV level reaches three or above.

Despite widespread awareness that ultraviolet radiation causes skin cancer, most Australians didn't know they must start "slipping on protective clothing, slopping on sunscreen, slapping on a hat, seeking shade and sliding on sunglasses" when the UV level hit 3, which at present occurs about 10.30am.

UV radiation is a known carcinogen and the sun's UV rays are thought to account for 95 per cent of melanoma cases in Australia. Nearly 2000 Australians are expected to die from melanoma this year. A frightening statistic.

The long-running National Sun Protection Survey worryingly showed the public's understanding of UV levels has stagnated, with 93 per cent in 2013-14 not knowing when sun protection was required.

The latest survey also showed 24 per cent incorrectly thought they could judge their sunburn risk by the temperature, while 23 per cent mistakenly cited conditions such as cloud cover, wind conditions or humidity.

Only 39 per cent correctly said UV rays was the only way to determine their risk of sunburn. While UV rays can be reduced by some types of clouds, it can bounce off others, giving the skin a "double dose".

UV rays can't be seen or felt so Australians are being encouraged to check the daily UV Index charts published by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) or Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

According to a BOM spokesperson, "On any day the greatest amount of UV reaches the Earth around midday when the sun is at its highest point. When the sun is low in the sky, solar energy must travel a greater distance through the atmosphere and more UV is scattered and absorbed. This applies to UVA and UVB at the Earth's surface."

Our skin is our largest organ, we need to protect it so make sure you check the links above or download the Free SunSmart App on your phone for daily UV updates.

Dermalogica have a UV Product for every skin type - see them here.