beauty

The basic sunscreen mistakes you might not realise you're making.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure sunscreen out. The application process goes a little something like this:

Open bottle and pour/spray/squeeze out lotion. Rub into exposed skin. Wait 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply as necessary. Enjoy life without sunburn.

However, according to new research, a big chunk of the Australian population is committing two major sunscreen sins without even realising it. Just when you thought you had your Slip, Slop, Slap routine nailed, huh?

A study by the University of Queensland found a third of Aussies don’t know how to check the expiry date on their sunscreen bottle. Furthermore, two thirds of us don’t realise the effectiveness of the formulation deteriorates when it’s stored in environments warmer than 25 degrees Celsius.

Ummm… OK. Hands up if you fall into one of these camps, if not both of them?

Aussies are also falling down when it comes to the amount of sunscreen we apply, which is ludicrous considering how much sun exposure we all get here. The study found just 15 per cent of us are using the amount of lotion recommended for effective protection.

Don’t resolve to become a hermit just yet, though — there are very simple fixes to these three no-nos.

Checking the expiry date

Every sunscreen bottle will have an expiry date, but unlike milk cartons you won’t always find them in exactly the same spot. Sometimes it’ll be on the bottom, sometimes it’ll be on the very top, sometimes it’ll be somewhere in the middle, on the back or the front. It’s not always obvious, which is why it’s so easy to miss. You just have to look carefully.

To illustrate this point, here are three sunscreens I just found in The Glow office, each one displaying the expiry in a totally different spot.

It's like the sunscreen equivalent of Where's Wally.

In the event your sunscreen has passed its use-by date, bin it and buy another one — because there's a very good chance it won't work at all. Yeah, it's frustrating to have to spend more money, but it's not work risking a sunburn. (Post continues after gallery.)

Safe storage temperatures

If you want your sunscreen to live a long, happy life (until it hits its expiry date, at least), store it in a cool spot out of the sun — so, in your bathroom cupboard rather than the window sill.

It's also wise to take care when you've got your sunscreen with you at the beach, park, or wherever you go. Aussie skincare brand Alpha-H, which has just launched its #allaboutSPF campaign to support further sun cancer research projects, recommends you stash it under your towel or next to a water bottle to ward off the heat.

The right amount

It's recommended you apply at least two tablespoons (or a shot glass, if that's easier to envision) of sunscreen to your body and face.

Have you been getting this right?

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