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New Zealand’s sun is infamous the world over and not for Oscar winning reasons. Kiwi and Aussie skin cancer rates sit at around four times that of other Western countries, with more than 1,300 new cancers reported in New Zealand each week and 300 Kiwis dying every year from the deadliest skin cancer, malignant melanoma, many aged just between 25 to 44.
While those stats make for grim reading, the great news is we hold the power in our hands - literally! So gets sun safe and dive into your complete suncare skin routine below.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are the names given to the electromagnetic spectrum, or energy rays, produced by the sun, with UVA and UVB radiation both reaching the earth’s surface.
UV radiation gives us that sunkissed glow, which is actually sun damage, but also causes sunburn, eye damage, 80 percent of premature ageing, damage collagen fibres, sun spots, sagging and thin, crepe-like skin. UVB photons can actually even damage DNA.
In New Zealand, our sun can cause sunburn any time during the eight months between September to April, with up to 80 percent of UV radiation still penetrating skin even when light cloud is present or on chilly days.
Swimming in the water, or being out on paddleboards, boogie boards, jetskis and more puts us directly in the reflective light of the blazing sun (as it does in snow) increasing UV exposure hitting skin from above and below.
The message of slip, slop, slap and wrap is key when it comes to protecting skin. This means, stay in the shade where possible, wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats, lather on the sunscreen, and wear sunnies outdoors and in cars (UVA rays penetrate glass).
Every day of the year when you know you’ll be outdoors - even if it’s just gardening, walking to work, or having brunch outdoors, apply sunscreen that has both broad spectrum and sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
If you’re heading out for a day at the beach, to ensure full body coverage, apply sunscreen before putting on togs to ensure skin near straps and fabric isn’t missed.
Wearing a broad spectrum SPF is critical in the New Zealand sun with NIWA’s UV Index indicating that during peak summer months, being in the sun between 8.30am and 5.30pm results in “moderate to high” UV exposure.
The thinner our skin, the more likely it will be permanently damaged from prolonged sun exposure or sunburn. The hands, face, around the eyes, neck and the chest area all have thinner skin. Apply a gentle, nourishing SPF cream to the face that is non-oily and maintains the face’s natural pH balance of 4.5-5.5, which is slightly higher in acidity from the rest of the body.
Popular broad spectrum SPF products are Nivea Sun Ultra Beach SPF50+ Spray, Natio Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF50+ with aloe and vitamin E, Snowberry Everyday Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, and Bondi Sands SPF 50 Lip Balm Coconut to hydrate and protect lips.
After time in the sun, skin benefits from cooling, nourishing and rehydrating ingredients to refresh and revitalise. Using an after sun product can even prolong a tan and prevent skin from flaking off too quickly.
Two of our most popular after sun products are the Dr. Hauschka After Sun with moisturising rosehip, carrot and quince seeds, and Clinique After Sun Rescue with Aloe which is an Ultra-moisturizing balm with soothing aloe that calms sun-exposed skin.