Expert reveals six common sunscreen mistakes


With Australia in the grips of sweltering conditions, it’s more important than ever to slip, slop, slap. 

But despite the majority of people being aware of sunscreen’s importance, many are putting their health at risk by thoughtlessly slapping on the product – or neglecting its use altogether. 

Speaking to FEMAIL, dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook revealed the six common mistakes people are making when it comes to protecting their skin.

Speaking to FEMAIL on Thursday, dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook (pictured) revealed the six common mistakes people are making when it comes to protecting their skin from the Australian sun

Speaking to FEMAIL on Thursday, dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook (pictured) revealed the six common mistakes people are making when it comes to protecting their skin from the Australian sun

Speaking to FEMAIL on Thursday, dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook (pictured) revealed the six common mistakes people are making when it comes to protecting their skin from the Australian sun

1. NOT APPLYING ENOUGH

One of the most common mistakes people make when using sunscreen is that they don’t use enough of it, Dr Cook said. 

She said consumer studies show people tend to use less than half of the amount of sunscreen required to get the SPF protection displayed on the bottle. 

‘There is an exponential dose-protection level relation, which means if you under-apply by half, you are effectively getting only a quarter of the correct SPF protection,’ she said.

‘If it’s a teaspoon per face and one for each limb – let alone your back – a 100mL bottle will only last you a couple of applications.’

One of the most common mistakes people make when using sunscreen is that they don't use enough of it, Dr Cook said (stock image)

One of the most common mistakes people make when using sunscreen is that they don't use enough of it, Dr Cook said (stock image)

One of the most common mistakes people make when using sunscreen is that they don’t use enough of it, Dr Cook said (stock image)

2. THINKING IT LASTS ALL DAY  

‘Most people don’t apply frequently enough,’ Dr Cook said. 

Most sunscreens may be water-resistant, however they are not water and sweat proof. 

Dr Cook added: ‘My rule to minimise under-applying is two applications every two hours – a teaspoon for the face and a teaspoon per limb.’  

3. THINKING TAN IS NATURAL PROTECTION 

Dr Cook was quick to point out that a tan is actually a sign of damage to your skin cells and DNA. 

Tanning pigment is produced by your body in an attempt to protect your skin once your DNA becomes damaged from UV rays. 

‘It’s a warning your DNA is being damaged and not the signs of a healthy glow,’ Dr Cook said.

‘Fake tans also do not give you any protection whatsoever.’ 

Dr Cook was quick to point out that a tan is actually a sign of damage to your skin cells and DNA (stock image)

Dr Cook was quick to point out that a tan is actually a sign of damage to your skin cells and DNA (stock image)

Dr Cook was quick to point out that a tan is actually a sign of damage to your skin cells and DNA (stock image)

4. WEARING A T-SHIRT FOR PROTECTION 

Simply covering your skin with clothing is not enough to protect you from the harshness of the Australian sun, Dr Cook said.    

‘Sun goes through white fabric. A fine, white t-shirt probably only has an SPF equivalent of four,’ she said.

She added that sunscreen should still be applied underneath a t-shirt.  

5. USING AEROSOLS INSTEAD OF CREAMS 

‘Aerosols do not give enough coverage and encourage people to significantly under apply,’ Dr Cook said. 

‘They also end up with skip-areas, leading to streaky gaps that end up getting burnt.’

Dr Cook added that breezy conditions result in the sunscreen drifting into the air instead of onto your skin. 

‘So people like them because you feel like you are wearing nothing. The reality is you probably are,’ she said. 

'Aerosols do not give enough coverage and encourage people to significantly under apply,' Dr Cook said (stock image)

'Aerosols do not give enough coverage and encourage people to significantly under apply,' Dr Cook said (stock image)

‘Aerosols do not give enough coverage and encourage people to significantly under apply,’ Dr Cook said (stock image)

6. GOING INTO THE SUN STRAIGHT AWAY 

Sunscreen can take up to 20 minutes to take effect, so you shouldn’t apply once you are already at the beach.

Dr Cook suggested adding two layers of sunscreen and reapplying every two hours.

‘It only takes about six minutes to burn in the peak of the day in the Australian sun, so it’s important to make sure you are prepared.’   



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