One of the most successful health campaigns in history was launched in 1981, by SunSmart, an Australian skin cancer awareness campaign. A cheerful seagull in board shorts, t-shirt and hat danced his way across our TV screens singing the jingle ‘slip, slop, slap!’ 

Melanoma rates were climbing (and still are) and evidence of the link between UV radiation and skin cancer was building. The Cancer Council Victoria teamed up with an ad agency to come up with a campaign that would encourage Australians to protect their skin.

The Slip! Slop! Slap! slogan became the core message of the Cancer Council’s SunSmart program and has become part of the Australian language, and has now spread worldwide. Its one of our favourite examples of how humour and a catchy tune can be a really effective way to raise awareness.

Cancer Council believes its Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign has played a key role in the dramatic shift in sun protection attitudes and behaviour over the past three decades.

SunSmart has since added Seek and Slide to the message to encompass all 5 recommended sun protection measures, including seeking shade, and sliding on/wearing sunglasses.

So what is the advice?

Well here is what the Cancer Council site says:

Protect your skin

For best protection, we recommend a combination of sun protection measures:

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  2. Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  3. Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
  4. Seek shade.
  5. Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.