search (0)

13th March 2018

Do once a day sunscreens work?

In a word the answer is NO. Here we explain why...

We know how important it is to protect our skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure, so most of us will reach for the sunscreen before we head out of the door. Applying sunscreen can be a laborious task, however, especially if you have young children to cover. This gets even worse on the beach, where sand gets stuck in the sunscreen and the kids won’t stand still long enough to reapply.

So what is the solution? You might be tempted by the promises of once-a-day sunscreens, that claim to provide adequate SPF coverage for eight hours or more after just one application. This guide gives you all the information you need about once-a-day sunscreens, whether they work, and how best to protect your skin from exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

What Do They Claim?

Once-a-day sunscreens claim to do what they say on the tin: offer sun protection all day after just one application. They claim to maintain the SPF stated on the bottle throughout the entire day, without needing to be reapplied.

Do They Work?

No. In 2016, research by Which? found that the average SPF offered by once-a-day sunscreens had decreased by 74% after six to eight hours of wear[1]. According to the study, a sunscreen with SPF 30 could give as little as SPF 8 coverage by the end of the day. In Australia, the country with the strictest sunscreen regulations in the world, the Australian Standard for sunscreen forbids the use of a ‘once-a-day’ label[2]. Anything that leads customers to think that sunscreens do not need to be regularly reapplied is banned in the country.

Even if the SPF of once-a-day sunscreens was maintained over the entire day, other factors would lead to your skin being unprotected. When we apply sunscreen, we often miss areas, which reapplication helps to ensure are protected to prevent sunburn. There are also a variety of activities which remove sunscreen, such as sweating, swimming, clothes rubbing the skin, towelling dry, and touching the skin. Reapplication is essential to ensure that your skin is protected throughout the day. There is no such thing as an effective once-a-day sunscreen.

What’s The Alternative?

So, if once-a-day sunscreens don’t work, what is the best way to protect yourself from the sun’s potentially harmful UV rays? Fortunately, there are a few ways you can protect your skin and still enjoy spending time outdoors.

Stay Shady

One of the best ways to protect your skin is to make the most of shady areas. Encourage the kids to play in the shade and try to position yourself near a tree or bring a parasol if you’re headed to the beach or the park. This is particularly true during the middle of the day when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest, so head into the shade between 11am and 3pm. Be aware that snow, water, sand, and glass all reflect the sun’s rays, meaning that you won’t be fully protected if you are only shaded from above.

Cover Up

Covering up is another great way to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. Clothing in dark colours with a close weave is the best for blocking out UV rays, as lighter colours and loose weaves don’t provide complete protection. If you are particularly sensitive to the sun, you can even get clothing that is specially designed to offer UV protection. You should also wear a hat to protect your head and face in the sun, as well as sunglasses to prevent sun damage to the eyes.

Wear Sunscreen

Just because once-a-day sunscreens don’t work doesn’t mean that you should give up on sunscreen completely. Choose a sunscreen with SPF 50/50+ that offers broad spectrum cover against both UVA and UVB rays. You should apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure, so that it can be properly absorbed into the skin. As a rule of thumb, you should apply around one teaspoon of sunscreen to each leg, the front, and the back of the body. Half a teaspoon each is sufficient for the face, neck, and arms. Once you’re out in the sun, be sure to reapply your sunscreen every two to four hours, as directed on the bottle. You should also reapply your sunscreen after swimming, exercising, sweating, and towelling dry to ensure that you are still protected.

SunSense sunscreens meet the stringent Australian Standard for sunscreen and offer SPF 50/50+ and broad spectrum UVA/UVB cover. With a sunscreen for every skin type, including kids and those with conditions that cause sun sensitivity, SunSense is the best way to protect the whole family. Browse the full collection of products online.

[1] BBC News. Once-a-day sunscreen not effective, says Which? [Internet] [updated 2016 May 27; cited 2017 June 30]. Available from:

[2] Australian/New Zealand Standard. Sunscreen products – evaluation and classification. AS/NZS 2604:2012


SIGN UP for all our latest updates & promotions