Sun protection at the snow
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Australia. The good news is that skin cancer is highly preventable. This is because UV is responsible for more than 95% of all skin cancers in Australia, which means that when you protect your skin from the sun’s UV radiation you reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Think UV not heat!
Sun protection is needed when UV is 3 or above, even when the temperature is cold and frosty. Check the SunSmart App daily to find out when sun protection is needed for your location.
Why is UV radiation a risk at the snow?
UV radiation levels are higher at high altitude; the air is cleaner and there is less atmosphere to absorb the UV rays. There is up to 30% more UV radiation at Mt Perisher (2,054 metres) and Thredbo (2,037 metres) than at sea level.
Snow is highly reflective; On a sunny day, clean fresh snow can reflect almost 90% of UV radiation. This means that UV radiation reaches you directly and indirectly (when it is scattered and reflected by the snow).
How to protect your skin
Your ski gear covers most of your body to keep you warm; for areas not covered, remember these tips:
- Take a break indoors or in the shade in the middle of the day when UV is highest.
- Cover your head and ears with a helmet and earpads, balaclava or beanie with flaps.
- Apply SPF 30 or higher broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside.
- Commonly exposed areas: face, lips, throat, back of the neck, ears, behind your ears, under your chin, beneath your nose, and backs of hands if you are not wearing gloves.
- Carry small tubes of sunscreen and lip balm to reapply every two hours.
- When skiing in spring, you may have more skin exposed as the weather is warmer. Wear tops with long sleeves and a high neck or collar and apply sunscreen to all exposed areas.
- Be a good role model for children and adults around you– actions speak louder than words.
How to protect your eyes
Snow blindness (sunburn on the surface of the eye) usually lasts only a few days but can be painful and contribute to long-term eye damage. To protect your eyes from reflected UV radiation:
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses or snug-fitting goggles. Check the tag to ensure glasses or goggles meet the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1067.1:2016 (lens category 2 or higher).
- If you wear prescription glasses, talk to your optometrist about getting prescription lenses fitted in your sunglasses or goggles.
At the snow, protect your skin in five ways:
- Slip on clothing that covers the skin including long sleeves and high neckline or collar.
- Slop on SPF30 or higher broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen and re-apply every two hours.
- Slap on a helmet, hat or beanie that covers your head and ears.
- Seek shade when taking a break.
- Slide on or wrap-around sunglasses or goggles.