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Fair game for the sun? Slop on a stronger sunscreen

Date

Stephanie Anderson

Penelope, 4, from Griffith, and Sage Haling  take a break from swimming to put on more sunscreen at Manuka Pool.

Penelope, 4, from Griffith, and Sage Haling take a break from swimming to put on more sunscreen at Manuka Pool. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Slip, slop, slap - it's one of the first life lessons Australian kids are given and it's one Jenny Haling's children have eagerly taken on board.

The Narrabundah mother of three said sun protection was very important in her red haired and fair skinned family.

''They always wear sunscreen when they're outdoors, no matter what time of the day,'' she said.

''As soon as they're outdoors, the sunscreen goes on. We just try to teach them that it's not good to get sunburnt, that it's good to protect your skin.''

And that protection is about to be boosted, with sunscreens sold in Australia now allowed to display a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 50+.

The new standard, introduced to recognise the developments made in sunscreen technology over recent years, brings Australia in line with the likes of New Zealand and is expected to be on shelves by summer.

However, the chairman of Cancer Council Australia's Skin Cancer Committee Terry Slevin has urged users not to overestimate the power of the product, which is no silver bullet for sun protection.

Mr Slevin said that despite the big difference in SPF numbers on the label, the new sunscreen would only offer marginally better protection from the UVB radiation that causes sunburn and adds to skin cancer risk. He said the new protection level filtered out 98 per cent of UVB radiation, only 1.3 per cent more than SPF30+ sunscreen.

''It's not a suit of armour,'' he said. ''It needs to be applied just as generously, reapplied every two hours and used in conjunction with protective clothing.''

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