Internationally, Australia is synonymous with sunshine and beautiful weather and this often figures prominently in why people choose Australia as a holiday destination. The opportunity to travel and bask in the Australian sun is something that many look forward to, but it is often the case that visitors overlook just how important it is to be sun smart and take care in the sun while holidaying in Australia.
“I’m taking a Melbourne tour. Isn’t the weather mild there?”
Whether you are travelling to sunny Queensland or cooler Tasmania, it is vital to understand how to protect your skin from the sun and counteract the physical effects of sun exposure. Even if you are enjoying a Melbourne tour on an apparently cloudy day or experiencing a Great Ocean Road tour on a sunny but not-so-warm day, you may still suffer sunburn or other effects of the sun.
Particularly when you are not used to needing to take such precautions, a little bit of education can help you prepare, effectively deal with the sun and really make the most of your Australian holiday!
1: Wear protective clothing
It is important to wear clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. When choosing garments to wear in the sun, be aware that materials that are closely woven offer higher UV protection, and the darker the colour, the more UV radiation is absorbed.
Cotton, linen and materials made from a combination of polyester and cotton represent good choices because they are cool and light in weight. When these materials are tightly woven, they offer protection of up to 95 per cent against UV radiation. Lycra is a material that keeps its sun protective value when wet.
2: Wear and re-apply SPF 30+ sunscreen
It is very important to use a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor that is as high as possible (i.e., 30+). Because no sunscreen provides absolute UV protection, it should never be relied upon as the sole form of sun protection used. Instead, it should be worn in combination with hats, protective clothing and sunglasses.
When choosing a sunscreen, look for the following:
- SPF 30+
- Broad spectrum (as this will filter UVA and UVB radiation)
- Water resistant
- Meets Australian standards
3: Wear a hat
Shade your face, head, ears, neck and eyes as completely as possible by wearing a hat. The best hats are:
- Broad brimmed hats, featuring a brim of at least 7.5 centimetres
- Bucket or ‘surfie’ style hats, with a brim of at least 6 centimetres and a deep crown
- Legionnaire hats, that effectively cover the back of the neck with a flap
Despite being fashionable, baseball caps do not generally provide great protection against the sun because they do not effectively cover the ears and the back of the neck.
4: Enjoy the shade
Remaining in shaded areas is one of the most effective ways to reduce the effects and impacts of sun exposure. However, protective clothing, hats and sunscreen should still be worn in order to avoid reflected UV radiation.
5: Wear sunglasses
Sunglasses have the potential to protect your eyes against harmful UV radiation. Sunglasses that offer the best protection will:
- Have frames that closely fit your face
- Be wrap-around in style
- Meet Australian standards
- Have an eye protection factor (EPF) of 10
If you need prescription glasses, it is well worth considering adding a layer of UV protective coating, attaching protective shades or having prescription sunglasses made up.
6: Stay hydrated
It is critically important to drink enough water when you are in the Australian sun. The body can quickly dehydrate and it is necessary to drink water often and in plentiful amounts. Particularly if you are enjoying alcohol, you need to supplement your body with water to prevent the effects of dehydration.
It is possible to enjoy your holiday by following these tips for staying safe and healthy in the Australian sun.