One of the absolute best parts of living in Australia is getting to have beautiful beaches, outdoor activities, and stunning landscapes right there in our backyard. While our true blue country is pretty damn special all year round, Aussie summers are known for being particularly epic. BBQ’s with mates, live music and cultural festivals and long days at the beach are just a few of the things that come to mind when thinking about the land down under between the months of December and February.
While those three months mark the official summer season, we know that sun safety is important all year. The Australian sun can be extremely harsh, and prolonged exposure without adequate protection can lead to sunburn, heatstroke, and long-term skin damage.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable summer with your family in Australia, it’s essential to prioritise sun safety. So, we’re hitting you with some tips on how to protect your loved ones from the sun’s harmful effects, including the importance of regular skin checks and the old mantra of “slip, slop, slap, seek and slip”.
Sunscreen Is Your Best Friend
We know you already know this, but it bears repeating. Sunscreen is the cornerstone – the OG, if you will, of sun safety. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or higher and apply it generously to all exposed adult skin. Choose 50+ for your kiddos.
Don’t forget areas like the ears, neck, and the tops of the feet (if you’ve ever burnt the tops of your feet you will know what we’re talking about here).
Make it a family ritual to apply sunscreen before leaving for any outdoor activity and be sure to reapply every two hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
Sunscreen should also be a part of your daily routine and there are plenty of amazing products on the market that work brilliantly under make-up. (Our favourite is definitely the Ultra Violette Queen Screen Luminising Sun Serum SPF 50+).
Be Shady AF
The sun’s intensity is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m, so during these hours, find shade whenever possible. Whether it’s under a beach umbrella, a tree, or even creating your own shade with a beach tent, avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours will reduce the risk of sunburn and heat stroke.
Another easy way to create shade wherever you go is with a hat, of course! It can be a struggle to get kids to keep hats on their heads (speaking from experience) but leading by example is a great way to get them into the habit of slapping on a hat.
Plus, hats are just plain fabulous accessories that pull together any summer look in seconds. We especially love the luxe range from Tina M Copenhagen. These chic hats are designed to protect you from the sun’s heat, while looking effortlessly cool.
Let Your Swimwear Help
Even with a great SPF, your kiddos especially should still have swimwear that protects their delicate skin further from that harsh Aussie sun – after all, you can never be too safe right?
Look for swimmers and rashies that provide good coverage and also have a built in sun protection factor – UPF 50+ is ideal.
We really love the Honeysuckle Swim Company’s range of swimwear for kids 0 – 6 years for quite a few reasons. First of all, they are an Aussie owned and operated company from Melbourne and we love local!
Secondly, their fast-drying, stretchy fabric is UPF 50+ to provide the highest quality protection for your kiddos. Plus, the swimsuits are full-coverage, breathable and have an inseam zipper for the younger ages (from Newborn to size 2) to make changing your little one in and out of their suit quick and hassle-free. What’s not to love!?
Oh, and the designs are super adorable too!
Following on from our last point, it’s also important to encourage your family to wear protective clothing such as lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses with UV protection.
If you have little ones, choose sun safe, long sleeved swim suits for extra protection.
This multifaceted approach not only shields them (and you) from the sun’s harmful rays but also helps to keep them cool.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
While summer evokes images of long, lazy days with friends sinking beers or glasses of rose, it’s essential to drink plenty of water to make sure you and your family are staying adequately hydrated.
Unfortunately, dehydration is a significant concern during hot Australian summers. Ensure your family drinks plenty of water throughout the day, especially when having fun doing outdoor activities.
Sugary or caffeinated drinks can also contribute to dehydration so try to limit your intake of these.
In addition to keeping you hydrated, drinking plenty of water has many other benefits such as helping you to regulate your body temperature, keeping your electrolytes in balance and keeping your skin glowing.
Plus, water is free! Most parks and beached these days provide handy water refill stations so you can quench your thirst without depleting your bank account or the environment. All you need is a sweet refillable (and insulated) water bottle – and we love this one from Cheeki.
Check the UV
Knowing and understanding the UV Index is an important, but often forgotten, component of effective sun safety. The UV Index, or Ultraviolet Index, is a measurement of the strength of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
By checking the UV Index in your location – information you can easily find online or on the SunSmart app – you can make informed decisions about sun protection. On days with a low UV Index (1-2), the risk is minimal, and sun protection measures may be less critical. However, on days with a high UV Index (7 or above), the risk of sunburn, heat-related illnesses, and skin damage is significantly higher, so you should take extra precautions, such as spending more time in the shade and applying sunscreen more frequently.
The UV Index can also help you determine the effectiveness of your chosen sunscreen. On high UV Index days, select a sunscreen with a higher SPF and reapply it more frequently to ensure maximum protection.
Regular Skin Checks for the Win
We cannot stress this enough but frequent skin checks are a crucial aspect of sun safety.
According to Cancer Council, Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with approximately two in three Aussies diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime. Sadly, around 2000 Australians will die from this disease this year, and it is estimated that almost twice as many men as women will die from melanoma this year alone.
So please, schedule regular appointments with a dermatologist or doctor to monitor any changes in your skin and encourage your family to develop the habit of checking their own skin for unusual moles, spots, or changes in colour and size. Early detection of skin issues is crucial for prompt treatment.
Most skin cancers can be prevented by using all five forms of sun protection when the UV level is 3 or higher, so:
- Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
- Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Apply 20 minutes before going outdoors and every two hours afterwards.
- Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
- Seek shade.
- Slide on sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards