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Is Banana Boat Sunscreen to blame for horrific sunburns?

Posted on 11 January 2017

Is Banana Boat Sunscreen to blame for horrific sunburns

With temperatures on the rise again, how can Australian’s adequately defend themselves against sunburns?

A fresh string of complaints about Banana Boat Sunscreen have surfaced, along with eye-wincing photos showing horrific burns. However, Banana Boat says its ‘products are safe’ and that there are ‘no issues with any of our products’.

If the sunscreen is working as intended, then the real issue needs to be addressed: how can Australian’s adequately defend themselves against sunburns?

Excuses, excuses.

Whilst the horrific sunburns we see in the media are extreme, as the owner of a boutique Australian sun protection clothing line, I hear misconceptions about sun exposure on a daily basis.  They sound like this:

“I’ve got tanned skin and I don’t burn, so I don’t need to cover up”.

This is the skin equivalent of 'I've never had a car crash, so I don't need a seatbelt'. Why tempt fate? Whether you can see your skin burning or not, prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays does cause damage to your skin. No matter what your natural skin colour, no one is exempt. 

Why you should care.

Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world. At least two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. The major cause, up to 90-95%, of skin cancer is related to sun exposure. 
 
Whether you can see your skin burning or not, prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays does cause damage to your skin. No matter what your natural skin colour, no one is exempt. 
 
But what most people do not realise is that the damaged done by exposing your skin is cumulative over your lifetime. So, by continually exposing your skin you are continually adding to your risks of skin ageing and skin cancer.

What you can do to protect yourself.

You can fight against sunburn and sun exposure by practising the Cancer Council’s Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide! message.  Easy, right?  But how many of us really know that this message is telling us? The 3 most common mistakes I see around the Slip Slop Slap message are: 

 

Mistake 1: Not using enough sunscreen

Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen resulting in only 50-80% of the protection stated on the product. According to the Cancer Council Australia, you need at least a teaspoon for each limb, front and back of the body and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears. So, be generous with your sunscreen, apply it before you go outside and reapply it at least every 2 hours.

Mistake 2: Sunscreen as your only defense

Wearing sunscreen does not mean you won’t get burnt – even if you follow all the directions on the bottle.  All sunscreen companies, including Banana Boat, recognise that sunscreen should only be one part of your sun safe measures. The other measures include wearing sun protective clothing, a big broad hat and staying out of the sun in the middle of the day when the UV index is at its highest. 

Mistake 3: Covering up the wrong way

Yes, we all love our t-shirts, flowy kaftans and oh-so-versatile sarongs. But, did you know, that the average white cotton t-shirt only has a UPF (which is like SPF for clothes) of about 5? This means that it allows 1/5th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. The Cancer Council’s Slip Slop Slap message is NOT being fulfilled by slipping on clothing of just any description. You need to be wearing clothing that has been specifically designed to protect you from the sun.
Similarly, whilst big floppy straw hats look good and provide shade, if you can see through the weave, then those UV rays can see you too. Like sun protection clothing, look for hats that are labelled as providing protection from UV exposure.

 

Don’t be a statistic

With so many great reasons to protect yourself from sun exposure and so much public education focused on skin protection, it’s hard to believe that we Aussies are not already world class superstars at sun safety. Please don’t be a statistic, learn more about sun protection, and enjoy the sun safely.

 

 

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