How to help prevent skin cancer

How to help prevent skin cancer

Skin cancer risk

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to:

  • Avoid getting sunburn
  • Avoid too much unprotected sun exposure
  • Use a high SPF, broad spectrum sunscreen
  • Apply correctly, and reapply every 2 hours
  • Reapply more frequently after swimming or physical activity and sweating

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired damage to skin cells triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiple rapidly and form malignant tumours.

What causes skin cancer?

Skin cancer is most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds. Protecting yourself through covering up and wearing broad spectrum sunscreen, applied correctly and reapplied when necessary, is your best means of preventing skin cancer.

What are the different kinds of skin cancer?

There are different kinds of skin cancer, and they can all present differently on the body.

It is important to understand how to detect skin cancer, and if you have any concerns, be sure to have any suspicious spots or moles checked by a doctor or specialist.

Skin cancers that are malignant and left unchecked may spread, invading and damaging nearby tissue. In some cases, skin cancers can spread to vital organs, becoming deadly*.

What is my risk of skin cancer?

Your personal risk of skin cancer will depend upon a number of factors, including: your skin type; genetic predisposition; how much unprotected sun exposure you’d had during your lifetime and the number and severity of sunburns.

Why are Australians at such high risk of skin cancer?

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70**.

Australians are at a high level of risk, because our country sits so close to the equator. This means we have high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is the part of sunlight that causes sunburn and skin damage.

How do I check for skin cancer?

The best way to check for skin cancer is to get familiar with your own skin, regularly check for changes and have regular check ups with your GP.

Most people have moles, birth marks, freckles and blemishes that are nothing to worry about, but it’s important to be familiar with what your own personal marks are, so you are more likely to notice any changes. When these change they should be checked by a doctor.

What do I look for when checking for skin cancer?

Look out for the following when checking your skin (ensure you check your whole body):

  • all spots, moles or freckles that have changed in shape, size or colour
  • a new spot you’ve found, that is different from other spots around it
  • any small, dome-shaped lumps that weren’t there before
  • a sore that doesn’t heal and/or ulcerates, or one that heals and breaks down again
  • any spots on your skin that you are worried about

How often should I check for skin cancer?

You should check for skin cancer regularly, because cancers (including melanoma) that are detected and treated early have a better outcome than most other types of cancer. If you’re familiar with your skin, you will be more likely to notice changes. If you do notice any changes, it’s important to make an appointment with your GP to have it checked out.

For more information on Skin Cancer, visit www.skincancer.org

*Staples M., et. al. (2006). Non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia:
the 2002 national survey and trends since 1985.Medical Journal of
Australia 2006; 184: 6-10

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If I wear higher SPF, can I apply less often?

If I wear higher SPF, can I apply less often?

A higher SPF sunscreen does not mean you can apply less often. You still need to apply your sunscreen correctly, and reapply at regular intervals to prevent sunburn.

Research has shown that Australian consumers do not apply enough sunscreen to reach the SPF levels on sunscreen labelling – that means, even if you are using SPF50+, if you are not applying enough you will not have the protection you think you do!

Similarly, layering different SPFs does not add up to a higher SPF. Applying an SPF20+ on top of an SPF30+ does not mean you are wearing SPF 50 sunscreen.


Is higher SPF always better?

In short, yes. While there are many levels of SPF available, and some people burn less quickly than others, every one should be wearing SPF 30+ at minimum, but preferably SPF 50+ to ensure they are as protected as possible.

Remember: just because you don’t look or feel like you are becoming sunburnt, does not mean sun damage isn’t occurring.

Which SPF should I use?

You should always aim for a higher SPF, but a general guide is to consider how long you will be out in the sun, and your skin type, and choose an appropriate SPF for those circumstances.

Check out our sunscreen application tips for advice on proper sunscreen application so you can ensure you’re properly protected.

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Does higher SPF sunscreen contain more chemicals?

Does higher SPF sunscreen contain more chemicals?

Higher SPF sunscreen does not contain more chemicals than sun lotions with lower SPF.

Advances in sunscreen research and formulation has allowed Banana Boat to develop sunscreen products with equal or lower levels of active ingredients than Banana Boat formulated in previous years, so a higher SPF level does not equate to more chemicals.


What are the active ingredients?

Sunscreen ingredients can vary slightly across products, so it is important to check the label if you have any particular concerns such as allergies or sensitivities.

Should I use high SPF if I have sensitive skin?

You should always use the highest SPF possible to give you the best protection.

Banana Boat sensitive sunscreen range has been specially designed for sensitive skin to be gentle, yet effective, with a high SPF.

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Does layering sunscreen increase SPF protection?

Does layering sunscreen increase SPF protection?

Layering two SPF does not add up to a higher level of protection. Using an SPF8 and SPF15 together won’t allow you to remain in the sun 23 times longer than without protection. It’s not additive, and you should always aim for a higher SPF rather than a lower one to be sun safe.

The table below shows the level of protection you can expect from different SPF products, but please remember these are a general guide only and protection can vary based on application, outdoor conditions and physical activity. You need to determine how long you’ll be in the sun, along with your skin type, and choose the appropriate SPF level for you.


What does SPF mean?

SPF stands for ‘sun protection factor’ and is a measure of how well a sun screen product protects the skin from UV radiation compared to unprotected skin. Broad spectrum sunscreens, like Banana Boat, protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.

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Will sunscreen block Vitamin D?

Will sunscreen block Vitamin D?

While it is true that sunscreen will block some of the Vitamin D provided by the sun, the benefits of using sunscreen far outweigh the benefits of receiving Vitamin D in this manner.


How can I get enough Vitamin D and stay sun safe?

According to the Cancer Council, regular use of sunscreen when the UV Index is 3 or above during normal daily activity should not stop you getting enough Vitamin D.

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Can I get sunburn on a cloudy day?

Can I get sunburn on a cloudy day?

You can suffer sun damage even on a cloudy day. Believe it or not, up to 80 per cent of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate through clouds and fog, so even though you might feel more protected because you can’t feel the heat of the sun (or see your shadow!) you still need to practice sun safety and wear sun screen.


Can I use a lower SPF on cloudy days?

You should still use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on cloudy days. In fact, some research has shown that particular types of clouds can increase the focus of UV light, raising the risk factor.

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What does the 50 in SPF50+ mean?

What does the 50 in SPF50+ mean?

SPF stands for ‘sun protection factor’ and the 50 in SPF50 refers to the amount of protection the sun screen offers compared to unprotected skin.

SPF 50+ sunscreens are formulated to allow less damaging rays to reach your skin’s surface than lower SPF sunscreens. For example, when applied correctly, SPF30+ allows 3.3% of UVB rays to reach your skin while SPF 50+ allows only 2% to reach your skin. This may not sound like much of a difference, but over a lifetime of UV exposure, it all adds up.


What level of protection do other SPFs offer?

In general, the SPF number refers to the theoretical amount of time you can stay in the sun and be protected without getting burnt, compared to unprotected skin. For example, SPF30 allows you to stay in the sun with less risk of sunburn for thirty times longer than you would if you weren’t wearing sunscreen.

However, there are factors that influence this and can reduce the amount of protection offered, including: the fairness of your skin; physical activity that may cause the product to sweat or rub off; water exposure; and most importantly, correct application.

Make sure you check out our sunscreen application tips to ensure you are applying your product correctly to ensure maximum protection, and cover up exposed skin where possible.

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What are UV rays?

What are UV rays?

UV rays – or ultraviolet radiation – is the part of sunlight which causes sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer. Ultraviolet radiation can be broken down into three bands: UVA, UVB, and UVC.


Does the amount of UV rays reaching Earth vary?

The amount of UV rays reaching the Earth’s surface varies throughout the day. The danger period is between 10am and 3pm. These are the hours when skin damage occurs the fastest. On a cloud-free day, we can feel maximum ultraviolet rays. However, ultraviolet levels are not related to the air temperature. There can be high levels of ultraviolet rays on cool days and UV rays still reach the Earth’s surface when there is cloud cover.

The higher the UV radiation levels, the less time it takes for skin damage to occur.

UV radiation levels are more intense between 10am – 3pm, when you need to be most vigilant about using products with UV protection such as sunscreen to shield yourself from UV light.

UV radiation levels are recorded using a UV Index (UVI), and being aware of the UVI on any particular day can help guide you in making sure you are using the right level of protection to stay sun safe.

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What are the types of UV Rays?

What is the difference between UVA and UVB?

Understanding the difference between UVA and UVB can help you better understand why broad spectrum protection is so important.


What are UVA rays?

This stands for Ultraviolet A, and can be more easily remembered as “UV Aging rays” because they are the cause of long term skin damage & photo-aging. In other words, they cause premature ageing, wrinkles and sun spots.

What are UVB rays?

This stands for Ultraviolet B and are often referred to as “UV Burning rays” because they are the cause of sunburn. Unlike UVA, they have different strengths year round. UVB rays are the common cause of most skin cancers, which is why UVB protection is so important.

What about UBC rays?

UBC stands for Ultraviolet C. While it is the strongest and the most deadly of solar rays, our ozone layer stops these from reaching Earth.

How do I keep myself safe from all the different kinds of UV light?

Using a broad spectrum sunscreen that is specifically designed to block the effects of both UVA and UVB, and ensuring you are applying your sunscreen correctly, and reapplying appropriately, is the best way to keep your skin safe and reduce your skin cancer risk.


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