Sunscreen Challenges in the work place
The Sun Protection Factor of sunscreens is only guaranteed if the product is applied correctly and reapplied accordingly. In most cases sunscreen is not applied properly or frequently enough to offer the recommended level of protection.
However, on average workers apply no more than half the recommended amount of sunscreen product required, reducing the actual protection factor by at least half as well.
Throughout the workday, sunscreen is not re-applied frequently enough to allow for continued protection. Sweating, washing and mechanical wear all reduce the sunscreen’s protection over a prolonged period.
Sunscreen Best Practise
To allow for sufficient UV protection throughout the workday:
- Use the recommended amount of sunscreen; more is better
- Re-apply sunscreen every 2-3 hours to guarantee continued protection, and more frequently if sweating or washing
- Use sunscreens with a high Sun Protection Factor to reduce the risks associated with product underuse and increase the level of actual protection!
Sun Protection Factor
Sunscreens are categorised according to their Sun Protection Factor (SPF) which refers to how well the product protects against one type of UV radiation - UVB - which can quickly cause skin damage and is the main cause of sunburn and several types of skin cancer.
It indicates by how much a sunscreen will increase your skin’s normal protection.
The SPF is determined using the ISO 24444:2010 International Standard. The test method uses 2mg of product per cm2 of skin. However, in real life use the amount of product actually used is 0.5mg – 1.0mg per cm2 of skin. As such, the higher the SPF of a product, the greater the likelihood to realise the desired skin protection in normal use situations.
In addition to protecting the skin for different lengths of time, sunscreens with different levels of SPF absorb different amounts of UVB radiation: An SPF15 sunscreen allows 6.3% UVB rays to be absorbed into the skin; an SPF30 allows 3.2% of UVB and an SPF5 allows 2.3% rays are absorbed.
According to the EU recommendations, UVA protection for a specific sunscreen should be at least one-third of the labelled SPF; a sunscreen which achieves this should display the UVA symbol on the packaging
In general, the higher the SPF and the higher UVA rating, the better the sunscreen
No specific guidelines exist for measuring UVC protection. However, using a modified COLPIA Guideline of the ISO 24444:2010 test method can be used to confirm if a product protects against UVC light.