Updated 11 November 2016

How does sunscreen work?

It's supposed to keep the harmful rays of the sun off your skin. So how does it work, anyway?


The ingredients in sunscreen absorb ultraviolet (UV) radiation by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. Energy from sunlight is converted to heat, dissipating harmlessly.

Is it safe to use sunscreen on a baby?
Use only sunscreen formulated for babies six months or older, unless your doctor says otherwise. When in doubt, ask your doctor. Make sure babies under six months are kept out of direct sunlight, and make sure they wear a hat.

How does sunless tanning lotion work?
These products contain DHA (dihyrdoxyacetone), which acts on the outer layer of the skin to produce a tanned colour. You control the level of tan with frequency of use. Remember that sunless tanners offer no protection from the sun, so if you use it, wear sunscreen in the sun.

Which sunscreen offers total sun protection?
None. Some tanning will take place even when using products with a high SPF. You should combine your protection measures: avoid the midday sun, and wear a hat, sunglasses and a long-sleeved shirt.

Read more:
Watch out for the sun



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