Wondering how you can be SunSmart? The following questions and answers will help!
There is no such thing as a healthy tan. A tan results from your body defending itself against further damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Yes. Up to 80% of UV radiation can penetrate light cloud cover. UV radiation levels can be high, and even increase, due to reflection from clouds. Also, the cooler temperature may mislead people to believe there is no risk of sunburn.
Yes. Water offers only minimal protection from UV radiation and the reflection from water can increase your UV radiation exposure.
Yes. UV radiation can build up during the day.
Yes. Glass reduces, but does not block, UV radiation. People who spend long periods in a car or next to a window receiving direct sunlight, should use protection.
Yes. Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation that cannot be felt. The temperature, or heating effect, is caused by the sun’s infrared radiation and not by UV radiation. Temperature and UV radiation levels are not related.
Usually no except when you are at high altitudes or in snow. At higher altitudes there is less atmosphere to filter ultraviolet radiation. Snow is highly reflective and increases the risk of burning. Exposed skin needs to be well protected by sunscreen.
The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) shows how effective a fabric is at blocking out ultraviolet radiation. This testing follows Australian/New Zealand standards (AS/NZS4399).
UPF ratings range from 15 to 50. A higher rating means more effective blocking and better protection.
UPF15 to 24 = good protection
UPF25 to 39 = very good protection
UPF40 to 50+ = excellent protection
SPF is the 'sun protection factor'. The SPF number shows how much protection against UVB and some UVA radiation that a sunscreen provides. The higher the number, the more UV radiation is filtered, and the greater the protection.
SPF is not precise, but gives a general guide to sun protection. No matter how high the SPF rating, no sunscreen can filter all UV radiation. All sunscreens allow some UV radiation to pass through to the skin.
We recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. We also recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
The UVI or UV index is a measure of the UV radiation in the environment – the higher the UV index number the higher your risk of skin damage and skin cancer. Anything from 3 and above means you need protection. To help you work out how best to protect yourself find out the UV index in your region and get your own personal recommendations. It is difficult to suggest how long people can safely stay out in the sun, as there are a number of factors to take into consideration such as skin type.
Choose a sunscreen that meets the Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS2604 (check the back of the bottle to see if it meets the standard). We recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. We also recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Wipe sunscreen on thickly at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply sunscreen 15 minutes after the first application to ensure full coverage and also after physical activity, swimming or towel drying. Sunscreen should not be used as a way to stay out in the sun longer, but as a way of reducing your risk. Sunscreen should be used along with other protection such as a hat, sunglasses, a long-sleeved shirt and shade.
Yes. Enough sun exposure is needed to maintain adequate vitamin D levels, but too much sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer. A balance is needed between the two.
People with fair skin can achieve their vitamin D levels in summer by exposing their face, arms and hands to a few minutes of sunlight outside of peak UV radiation periods (11am to 4pm, September to March). People who have darker skin will need a longer exposure time to achieve the same effect. To achieve sufficient vitamin D without sunburn, it is better to expose larger areas of skin for shorter periods than exposing smaller areas of skin for longer periods.
You can still be SunSmart and avoid sunburn while achieving vitamin D levels. Sensible sun protection (slip, slop, slap and wrap) between September and March should not put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency. And, sunburn should always be avoided. Read more.
There is no evidence sun beds are safe. They increase the risk of melanoma, particularly for people with fair skin under the age of 30. Unlike Australia and other countries, New Zealand does not have mandatory standards for sun bed operators. Sun beds and solariums emit much higher levels of UV radiation than the sun – up to five times as strong as the midday summer sun! Using sun beds or other UV radiation tanning devices is not recommended. Read more.
Wrong. It is UV radiation from the sun that causes skin to burn. Wind lowers the temperature of the air, making it easy to underestimate the risk of harmful exposure to UV radiation.
Yes. New Zealand has periods of very high UV radiation meaning that everyone, regardless of skin type, is at risk of skin cancer or damage to their eyes.
No. Any exposure to UV radiation has the potential to cause skin damage. Sunburn and peeling are signs some damage has already occurred – even if it turns into a tan. The tan you develop won’t protect you from the harmful effects of the harsh New Zealand sun.
You can’t undo damage that may have already occurred to your skin, but you can prevent future sunburn to minimise any further risk.