What is UV?

  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of energy produced by the sun and some artificial sources, such as arc welders and solariums.
  • The sun’s UV is the main cause of skin cancer.
  • Too much UV exposure also causes sunburn, tanning, premature ageing and eye damage.
  • You can see the sun’s light. You can feel the sun’s heat. But you can’t see or feel the sun’s UV radiation.
  • UV can reach you directly from the sun. It can also be reflected off different surfaces and scattered by particles in the air.
  • Your senses cannot detect UV radiation, so you won’t notice it is all around you and you won’t notice any skin damage until it has been done.

The UV Index

  • The World Health Organisation measures UV levels on a scale from 0 (Low) to 11+ (Extreme). Sun protection is recommended when UV levels are 3 (Moderate) or higher.
  • The UV level is affected by a number of factors including the time of day, time of year, cloud cover, altitude, location and surrounding surfaces.

The UV Index and the sun protection times

  • The sun protection times are issued when UV levels are forecast to be 3 or higher.
  • At this level there is a risk of skin damage for most Australians.
  • You can find the sun protection times for your location: DOWNLOAD SUNSMART APP
  • Protect your skin and eyes by using covering clothing, sunscreen, a hat, shade and sunglasses.
  • Don’t just wait for hot and sunny weather.



Is temperature related to UV?

  • UV is not hot.
  • It can’t be felt and isn’t connected to the temperature.
  • UV levels are damaging on cool, cloudy days and warm, sunny days.
  • UV is always highest during the middle part of the day between 10am and 2pm (or 11am and 3pm daylight saving time).
    • Location: UV levels are highest along the equator. Australia is near the equator so we experience high UV levels
    • Time of year: our elliptical orbit around the sun and our axial tilt combine to ensure that we are closer to the sun in our summer than the northern hemisphere e.g. in summer the UK has UV Index 6–8, while Australia has UV Index 10–14
    • We have clear skies and less air pollution.The temperature can peak in the afternoon when UV levels are less intense.

      Why is the UV so high in Australia?

      Australia experiences some of the highest levels of UV in the world.

    How does UV add up?

    UV damage is accumulative!!!!

    Your skin remembers and records all the UV exposure over the years which contributes to your long-term risk of skin cancer. The more UV you’re exposed to, the greater your risk. That’s why it’s important for outdoor workers to protect their skin all year round. Even low UV levels can be harmful when exposed for long periods.

    Health effects of too much UV radiation

    Too much UV radiation can cause skin and eye damage, sunburn, tanning and skin cancer.



  1. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of protection sunscreen gives against UVB radiation. The rating tells you how long the sun’s UV would take to redden your skin compared with using no sunscreen. For example, in theory SPF50 would take you 50 times longer to burn than if you use no sunscreen. In reality, we know that many Australians do not apply the right amount of sunscreen to achieve the SPF stated on the bottle, so correct application is key.
  2. SPF30 versus SPF50: In lab conditions, SPF30 filters 96.7% of UVB and SPF50 filters 98%. Both can provide excellent protection if they are applied properly.
  3. Broad-spectrum: There are different types of UV radiation. UVA rays are responsible for tanning and premature ageing, whereas UVB rays cause sunburn and skin cancer. A broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection against both types of harmful rays.
  4. Water resistant: Sunscreens labelled as water resistant are tested to be effective for up to 40 minutes of swimming.
  5. Use by and storage: Expired sunscreen may not be effective so check the ‘use by’ date before applying. Store sunscreen correctly – below 30°C and out of direct sunlight.
  6. INGREDIENTS: “Actives” in sunscreens are the chemicals within the ingredients that make it work! In sunscreen, they are there to absorb or filter the ultraviolet light to stop you from burning and protect you from the harmful rays. These include ingredients found in both chemical and physical sunscreen formulas.Avoid using filters such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate.

    How to apply sunscreen

Many Aussies apply too little sunscreen and forget to re-apply every two hours. This means they are likely to get less than half the protection stated on the product label. For sunscreen to work, correct application is essential.

  • You need more than you think: The average-sized adult needs a teaspoon of sunscreen for their head and neck, each limb and for the front and the back of the body. That’s about 35ml of sunscreen or 7 teaspoons for one full body application.
  • Apply early and reapply: Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before you go outside and reapplied every two hours (whether or not the label tells you to do this). Remember to reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • The best sunscreen: The best sunscreen is the one that suits your skin type, activity and that you find easy to reapply so you will actually USE IT.
  • If you have an allergic reaction to a sunscreen, look for a fragrance-free product such as a toddler or sensitive sunscreen.