Beach survival kit: sun protection essentials

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If you’re like me, you always forget to bring one thing to the beach! I am an indoors girl – I view going to the beach as an expedition. And since around 80% of new cancers diagnosed in Australia each year are skin cancers, I’m justified in my wariness (Fun fact: 2/3 of Australians will have been diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they’re 70). Here’s what I take:

Slip – I have one of these wrap dresses in bright red:

It’s lovely and breezy, and so quick to put on! I also take a loose white long-sleeved shirt to keep the sun off my arms, and white reflects light so I don’t steam in the sun.

Slop – The sunscreen which saved my skin when I went camping was NIVEA’s Moisturising SPF 30+. This requires a lot of working in since it’s so creamy, but the moisturising properties do make it good for preventing the dehydration that accompanies mild sunburn. There’s now an SPF 50 version too! But this is definitely a pre-beach product – it’s no fun rubbing in sunscreen when you’re covered in sand. There is a Light Feel version which I’m yet to try, but unfortunately it doesn’t come in SPF 50 yet in Australia. I’d love to find a good spray-on sunscreen for the beach, but alas, that has eluded me so far.


On my face, I use Jeunesse Luminesce Daily Moisturising Complex – it’s SPF 30 and works well with my oily skin.

Of course, you can get sunburnt on your lips too – I love NIVEA’s SPF 30 lip balm. NIVEA does great, bargain lip products and this one moisturises better than my beloved Repair and Protection, but I’m a bit wary of eating sunscreen all the time.

Other often-forgotten places to look out for: ears, back of neck, tops of feet, middle of back.

Also check out this post for details such as how much to apply and when to reapply, and this post for the nitty-gritty on how sunscreens work.

Slap – Your scalp is also one of the places that gets sunburnt – it’s essentially pointing straight at the sun! A broad-brimmed hat is a must.

Wrap – Glare at the beach isn’t just annoying – UV radiation can cause cataracts and blindness. Make sure the pair you buy are actually labelled “sunglasses” and not “fashion glasses” – the latter offers minimal UV protection.

(I think the message is technically Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek (shade), Slide (on sunnies) now, but that is never going to stick in my head and “seek” pretty common sense!)

I also had the opportunity to try out this nifty little device lately. It’s a U-B Safe 1, which monitors UVB exposure, taking into account skin type and previous exposure. While UVB can cause sun cancer, it also prompts the skin to make vitamin D, which is important for bone density and helps prevent a range of diseases. It’s endorsed by one of my formerĀ  physiology lecturers, and has won a host of reputable awards (ABC TV New Inventors Award and the Australian Design Award amongst others).

You set it to your skin type and attach it to a sun-exposed surface (your hat is best), then it’ll play a tune once you’ve had enough UVB. Handily, it’s solar powered, and about 5 cm long.

The biggest con to this is simply that it looks dorky. Most of us aren’t ok with this thing clipped to our hats when we’re already self-conscious about our wobbly bits at the beach. But you can get away with clipping it on your bag or clothing or towel, provided you’re super careful not to accidentally shade it. If you’re worried about UV exposure (if you burn easily, if you have a family history of skin cancer, or if you have outdoorsy kids for example) this would be a sound investment.

U-B-Safe 1 retails for $68 and is available from here.


U-B-Safe 1 was provided for review, which did not affect my opinion. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

Skincare Guide


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