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When Should I Wear Sunscreen in New Zealand?

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Avoid skin damage by wearing sunscreen in Autumn and Winter

The short answer is yes, you need to wear sunscreen year-round in Aotearoa New Zealand due to the high intensity of our UV rays. Even in Autumn and Winter. 

On Thursday March 16th between 11:30-3:30 the UV index was between 6-8 which is categorised as High (Niwa, Today's UV Index). According to Dr Richard McKenzie, a NIWA scientist, "when the UV index is 3 that means, for a fair-skinned person, about an hour before you get skin damageIf the UV index is twice as big – 6, it's going to be half an hour, 12, [it's going to be] quarter of an hour" (RNZ 2018).

As a fair-skinned redhead, I know for a fact that I would be beetroot red after 30 mins to one hour outside on an Autumn day like today (March 16th 2023, UV index 6-8). 

How Much Sunscreen Do You Need

Conventional sunscreens have a LOT of water in them so you need to apply at least 1 tsp per body part to get adequate coverage. Seasick Sunscreen contains no water so a little bit goes a long way. We recommend starting with a good pea-sized blog for your face and going from there. 

How Often Should Your Reapply Sunscreen

This really depends on your own skin tone and what you are doing - for example are you swimming lots and then towel drying? If so then you should reapply more often. It is recommended to reapply all types of sunscreen every 2 hours however, this is unlikely to actually happen, especially in Autumn and Winter. If you are like me, I apply sunscreen first thing in the morning, sometimes under makeup and then go about my busy day....If I am lucky, I will reapply sunscreen to my face, neck and shoulders when sitting outside at lunch time or in the afternoon on a sunny day. 

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tin of sunscreen with blue label sitting on the sand with white and blue fading out either side with text written over the top 


Niwa. Today's UV Index.

Skin cancer science: Sunscreen in winter urged as study reveals flaws in UV advice. RNZ Nine to Noon. 18 September 2018. Available from


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