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Staying safe in the sun: Tips for being sun smart

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

New Zealand has some of the strongest levels of UV radiation in the world so it’s important to make the right sun care choices. Your Unichem Pharmacist can provide you with the right care, advice and products to help you be sun smart.

A broad-spectrum sunscreen can help shield against skin damage from both UVA rays (which cause wrinkles and premature aging), and UVB rays (which cause sunburn).

You should choose a sunscreen with a high SPF number, such as SPF 50+. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and it indicates how much protection a sunscreen has against the burning rays of the sun.

Getting the most from your sunscreen

Most of us aren’t benefiting from the full SPF value of sunscreens. We either apply too little, too late, or don’t reapply it often enough. Here are some tips to help ensure you don’t get caught out.

The teaspoon rule

Assuming your torso is covered up, you’ll need a teaspoon of sunscreen for each of your arms and face, and two teaspoons for both your legs. On an average adult body, that’s at least seven teaspoons. If you’re wearing swim wear, you’ll need even more.


To be fully protected by your sunscreen, apply it 15 - 20 minutes before going into the sun.


Then re-apply at least every two hours. Water resistant sunscreens can rub off when you towel dry or sweat so re-apply after getting out of the water.

Cover up

Hats, shirts and sunglasses all help to increase your sun protection. It’s also wise to seek shade, especially between 10am and 4pm.

Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach

It’s a good idea to wear sunscreen when driving since car windows don’t block UVB rays, unless of course they’re tinted.

It’s a great idea to wear a hat but it will only protect you from 50% of the sun’s rays so apply sunscreen to your face as well for better sun protection.

If you’re tramping or skiing at high altitude it’s important to wear sun protection whatever time of year it is.

If you do get sunburnt…

It’s best to prevent sunburn with good sun care protection, but in case you do get burnt:

Act quickly

As soon as you see a touch of pink on yourself or a child, or you feel any tingling of a burn, get out of the sun and start treatment.

Cool down

Apply a cold compress or immerse the affected area in cool water.


Gently apply a cream or lotion to soothe the skin.


Drink water, juice or sports drinks with electrolytes to replace body fluids.


Stay out of the sun until the burn fades.

Get expert advice

Talk to your Unichem Pharmacist if you get blisters and they break, you are in severe pain or discomfort, or the sunburn is accompanied by chills, fever, nausea or vomiting.

Be smart and get checked

If you’re concerned about a mole or funny looking skin spot get it checked by a doctor straight away.

Ask your Unichem Pharmacist for more information about being sun smart so you can enjoy the sun safely.


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