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How to stop getting sunburnt so easily

Man wearing sunglasses applies sunscreen to woman's face at the beach
  1. You can still burn on cloudy days
  2. Apply sunscreen before your skin is red
  3. Be vigilant at the start of summer 
  4. Protect your nose
  5. You need more than just sunscreen
  6. Apply sunscreen correctly
  7. Check your sunscreen is SPF certified
Did you know?
Over 90% of all skin cancer is due to excess sun exposure (Health Navigator NZ) and the highest reported rates of melanoma in the world are in Australia and New Zealand (DermNet).

1. Even when it's cloudy, you can still get burnt

Probably one of the worst sunburns I have ever had was on a cloudy day. It was nice and warm so I was in and out of the water a lot - not even really drying off enough between swims to apply sunscreen to my body...or at least that's how I justified it at the time. I had terribly painful and red burn on my chest, so badly that it blistered. Even on cloudy days, 80% of the sun's rays can reach your skin causing sunburn and skin damage.

2. Don't wait until your skin is showing signs of redness to apply sunscreen

woman's sunburnt hands wearing a ring with ocean in the background

When I was younger, I thought as long as my skin wasn't pink or red that I was doing just fine. What I didn't know is that by the time the red appearance of sunburn starts to show, the damage has well and truly been done. So don't wait until you see visible signs of sun damage before applying sunscreen. In fact, you should apply sunscreen before you leave the house, giving it time to sink in.

3. Be extra vigilant at the start of summer

You are more likely to get burnt at the beginning of summer for several reasons:

  • Your skin is likely to be more fair and soft after winter and therefore will burn easily
  • Cooler temperatures means you are less likely to think of applying sunscreen. Don't be fooled - the sun in New Zealand especially is very strong and can cause skin damage year-round.
  • You are likely to be more complacent about sunscreen application because chances are, you haven't worn sunscreen since last summer. 

Our top tip: check the expiration date on your sunscreen. If it is passed the date then it may not provide you with the level of SPF labelled! Our plastic free sunscreen tins are great because you can see exactly how much sunscreen you have left so you are less likely to waste it and you know exactly when it is time to top up. 

4. Protect your shnoz! 

woman with orange hair in bikini applies seasick sunscreen to her face at the beach


Your nose, face, scalp and other commonly sun-exposed areas are the most likely parts of the body to be sun damaged and get melanoma. So wear a hat and reapply sunscreen to these areas more often.

5. You need more than just sunscreen

Sunscreen isn't the only thing you need to protect yourself from sunburn. Wear long shirts, a sarong or a beach poncho to keep your skin covered when possible. Seek shade in the middle of the day when the UV rays are the strongest and wear a hat and sunglasses.

6. How to Apply Sunscreen Correctly

man rubbing in white sunscreen to his arm at the beach


Applying sunscreen incorrectly is one of the easiest ways to get a sunburn - this is because you think you are protected when you're not.

  • Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Apply before you go outside, and re-apply every two hours, especially if you are swimming or sweating.

7. New Sunscreen Regulations New Zealand

In September 2022, a new sunscreen safety bill became law in New Zealand. All sunscreens sold in New Zealand must meet the AS/NZ 2604:2012 sunscreen standard meaning they must be independently tested for SPF levels. It is very important to choose a sunscreen that meets these regulations otherwise you may not be getting the level of SPF protection that you think. Learn more about the new sunscreen NZ regulations here.

Avoid sunburn this summer with our sunscreen


DermNet. Melanoma. Retrieved on 11 September 2022 from

Health Navigator New Zealand. Skin Cancer. Retrieved on 11 September 2022 from


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