PARENTS usually try to keep their children's exposure to chemicals at an absolute minimum, but when it comes to sunscreen, the more chemicals the better, according to the University of Canberra's head of pharmacy, Greg Kyle.
Conversely, when it comes to sunburn remedies, the old-fashioned methods of cold tea and vinegar are just as effective as over-the-counter remedies.
Dr Kyle said parents were often wary of using products on their children's skin which contained lengthy lists of chemical ingredients when in fact, sunscreens with complex chemical combinations were ''usually more effective than the so-called natural options''.
Sunscreens work by absorbing ultraviolet light before it penetrates the skin.
''So a mix of ingredients means a mix of chemical absorbers and usually a more effective product,'' Dr Kyle said. ''I would definitely go for chemical exposure through sunscreen than sun exposure which can have devastating long-term effects.''
New labelling laws introduced last month will allow Australian sunscreens to display a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 50+ rather than the previous maximum rating of SPF 30+.
The new standard, introduced to recognise the developments made in sunscreen technology over recent years, brings Australia in line with New Zealand and is already being introduced in shops.
But Dr Kyle said an SPF 50 did not make a person impervious to burning. While an SPF 30 sunscreen would block out 96.7 per cent of UV, the new SPF 50 blocked out 98 per cent.