According to Vincent, the ideal product would have SPF 30 and a four to five-star rating.

Durban - Summer sizzles for a variety of reasons, but never more so than when the mercury hits the high 30s.

With the onset of summer, sunscreen becomes a handbag staple. But, experts warn, simply having a bottle and applying it from time to time is not good enough.

Dr Pete Vincent, of Netcare Travel Clinics, says people must pay attention to the type of sunscreen they use, how much they apply and how often they do. He says it is important to become informed about sun protection to avoid developing melanoma and other skin cancers.

According to the SA Melanoma Advisory Board, South Africa has one of the highest incidences of malignant melanoma, with people in the Cape being worst affected.

Vincent says people exposed to the sun intermittently are more likely to develop malignant melanoma, while those exposed continuously are prone to squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer.

“Many people misunderstand or underestimate the importance of the sun protection factor of a sunscreen,” says Vincent.

He explains that the protection factor is a measurement of how effective a sunscreen is in protecting from UVB, the type of ultraviolet radiation that causes the skin to burn. But they are not the only threat to the skin. UVA rays penetrate deeper and are associated with ageing and skin cancers. UVA protection is measured by a star rating system.

According to Vincent, the ideal product would have SPF 30 and a four to five-star rating.

He says when swimming or engaging in an activity that causes you to sweat, much of the sunscreen will wash or run off the skin. Parents, therefore, should be particularly vigilant about ensuring their children have enough sunscreen on at all times.

For proper protection you should apply two milligrams of sunscreen to every square centimetre, which in total is about two tablespoons overall for a person of average size. This equates to slightly more than half a teaspoon each to the head and face, neck, right arm and left arm.

The front torso area, back and legs need slightly more than a teaspoon each. The sunscreen must be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure. – Daily News