The Cancer Council is now strongly advising against the use of aerosol sunscreen following new research indicating that it is extremely difficult to get good levels of UV protection from these products, leaving many Aussies at risk of sunburn and skin damage that can lead to cancer. The QUT (Queensland University of Technology) looked at the amount of sunscreen vs. propellant in nine popular commercially available aerosol sunscreen products.
The results showed spray times required to achieve the level of UV protection as stated on the aerosol ranged from 4 to 14 seconds per limb, or 29 to 98 seconds for a full body application.
Importantly, this was in controlled laboratory conditions – it would be even harder to get the right coverage when used in everyday situations such as the beach.
In addition, some aerosol products contained less than half sunscreen, with the rest propellant. This means consumers have no way of knowing how much sunscreen they’re purchasing making correct application almost impossible.
What is Cancer Council recommending?
Their advice is to avoid using aerosol sunscreen and to use a cream or lotion instead because that way it’s easier to see that you’ve applied the right amount.
And importantly, never rely on sunscreen alone – regardless of type. When the UV is 3 and above, use all five forms of sun protection – Slip on sun protective clothing, Slop on sunscreen (preferably cream or lotion), Slap on a broad-brim hat, Seek shade and Slide on sunglasses.
How much sunscreen should Aussies be using?
• For any uncovered skin, apply SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen.
• Use seven teaspoons of sunscreen for full body application: one teaspoon for each arm and leg, one for the front of the torso, one for the back, and one for the face, neck and ears.
• Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before going outside and reapplied every two hours, or more if swimming, sweating or towel-drying.