The essential guide to sunscreen

PUBLISHED: 10:37 21 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:14 20 February 2013

The essential guide to sunscreen

The essential guide to sunscreen

A new study has found that most of us have no idea how much sunscreen we should be using. Cancer Research UK says we're a nation of 'slapdash slatherers' who are risking permanent skin damage and even cancer.

Cancer Research UK has found that 87 per cent of us are either not using the right amount of sunscreen, are not sure of the amount they use or are not using any at all.
The survey of 2,140 people across the UK, sponsored by Superdrug, has revealed that most of us dont put on enough sunscreen or reapply it often enough. Not using sunscreen correctly in these ways can result in sunburn, a sign that the skins DNA has been damaged, in ways that can lead to skin cancer.
Just over one in ten people (13 per cent) knew that they used the recommended two tablespoons of sunscreen to cover their entire body, whilst wearing a swimsuit or trunks. A fifth (20 per cent), admit they dont use any sunscreen at all.
When holidaying abroad, almost half (49 per cent) of people who wear sunscreen dont reapply it at least every two hours the recommended amount.
People were also less likely to use sunscreen in the UK, with two fifths (42 per cent) of people either regularly forgetting to apply sunscreen or never using it, compared with one fifth (22 per cent) doing so abroad.
Caroline Cerny, Cancer Research UKs SunSmart manager, said: Its really concerning that people dont know how to use sunscreen properly. Sunscreen only works if you put enough on. You cant make up for a thin layer by increasing the factor you use.
Rates of the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, are on the rise in the UK, so we really want people to take note of what they can do to protect themselves. Applying sunscreen regularly and generously is a start, but dont forget to take other steps to reduce your risk as well, such as covering up with clothes, sunglasses, and spending time in the shade when the sun is at its hottest. Whatever you do, dont let sunburn catch you out.

For further information about skin cancer and Cancer Research UKs SunSmart campaign, visit

Which sunscreen is best?
Cancer Research UK recommends
a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 - the higher the factor of sunscreen the better
broad-spectrum sunscreens with a star rating of four stars or more
Also check:
the expiry date most sunscreens have a shelf life of 2-3 years

How much is enough?
When your risk of burning is high, ensure that all exposed skin is thoroughly covered in sunscreen. As a guide, for an average person, this means
around two teaspoonfuls of sunscreen if you're just covering your head, arms and neck.
around two tablespoonfuls if you're covering your entire body, while wearing a swimming costume.

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