10 sunscreen myths to stop believing this summer

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There are a lot of misconceptions about sunscreen — what kind of sunscreen you need, how much you should apply, and when you should apply it. But believing everything you hear could be bad news for your skin. When it comes to protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, which can cause sun poisoning, blisters, and cancer, sunscreen is your best protection.

This summer, it’s important that you do it the right way. Let’s separate fact from fiction and bust some common myths about sunscreen so you can protect your skin.

Read more: The Best Sunscreens to Protect Your Skin

Top 10 Myths About Sunscreen

1. All sunscreens are the same

Yes, the goal of all sunscreens is to protect your skin from sun damage. But each product works differently, depending on its ingredients and level of sun protection.

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There are generally two broad categories of sunscreens — chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens contain avobenzone and oxybenzone, which absorb the sun’s rays and turn them into heat. Physical sunscreens, also called mineral sunscreens, contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which reflect the rays. The ingredients in sunscreens determine how they protect your skin from the sun.

2. The higher the SPF the better

You would think that the higher the number, the more protection you get. But that’s not always the case. SPF 50 blocks about 98% of UV rays. SPF 100 only blocks 99%, which is a slight difference. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get SPF 100, just remember that no sunscreen can give you complete protection from the sun. High SPFs give people a false sense of protection from the sun, which can damage the skin.

What does that number on your sunscreen bottle mean? SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures how long a sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays. This metric is based on how long it takes your skin to burn in the sun without protection. Let’s say it takes 30 minutes. If you applied SPF 30, it would take 30 times longer – a total of 300 minutes.

I will warn you that these numbers are determined in a lab, and used accurately, do not take into account things like sweat, skin oils, or accidental rubbing of the product. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 or higher, which should be reapplied every 2 hours.

3. You need makeup with sunscreen to protect your face

Using a moisturizer or makeup with SPF is a great way to provide more protection from the sun. But it is not enough to provide adequate protection from the sun. When testing, skincare companies test with thick layers of product to determine SPF. In practice, if you apply only a thin layer of the product, you are probably not getting the full SPF stated on the bottle.

There is a lot of variety in the ways people apply makeup, so it’s hard to say that it’s enough. Makeup with SPF is a great alternative, not a replacement for sunscreen.

If you’re wondering how to apply sunscreen after makeup, you can either apply sunscreen over your makeup with a beauty sponge or purchase a powder sunscreen. ColorScience Brush-On Sunscreen,

Read more: Best Facial Sunscreen

4. Waterproof sunscreen does not require reapplication

Tell me if this sounds familiar to you from childhood: your mom would put sunscreen on you at the pool and make you sit there until you dried off before you could jump in. It was the longest wait of your life.

Turns out your mom was right. Here’s the thing about waterproof sunscreen — it’s not actually waterproof. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there’s no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. Sweat and water will always wash sunscreen off the skin.

That’s why it’s important to wait 10 to 15 minutes after applying sunscreen before getting into the water. You should reapply it every 2 hours, even if you don’t get into the water.

A woman sitting outside applies sunscreen to her face. A woman sitting outside applies sunscreen to her face.

westend61/Getty Images

5. Dark skin doesn’t need sunscreen

Provides melanin Some? Natural protection from the sun by diffusing UV rays. However, people with darker skin may develop wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, sunburn, and skin cancer. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that people with darker skin have lower survival rates for skin cancer, reinforcing the need for everyone to apply sunscreen. It is important to note that people with darker skin have lower survival rates because they are diagnosed less often, not just because of their skin color.

6. You should only apply sunscreen when it’s sunny

Some people believe that because the sun is behind clouds, sunscreen is not necessary. But let me ask you, what are clouds? If you guessed water vapor suspended in the air, you are correct. While clouds can reduce the amount of sunrays hitting your skin, they are not enough to completely block them. Over 90% of UV rays pass through clouds. Even if it is cloudy, it is best to apply sunscreen.

7. If you wear sunscreen you will have vitamin deficiency

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that is made when proteins in our skin react to UVB rays coming from the sun. Essentially, we need sunlight to make the necessary amount of vitamin D that allows our bodies to absorb calcium and phosphorus. No sunscreen blocks 100% of the sun’s rays, even if it says 100 SPF on the packaging. You will still get about 2% to 3% of UVB rays, which is enough for your body to make vitamin D.

8. Tanning is okay as long as you don’t burn

A safe base tan is a myth. The skin darkens to protect itself from damage caused by UV rays. Having a base tan does not protect you from the sun and is a sign of skin damage.

UV radiation is a human carcinogen. Even if you don’t get a sunburn, unprotected sun exposure increases your chances of getting skin cancer. Establishing a base tan with a session at a tanning salon is still damaging your skin.

Woman sunbathing in a swing on the beach. Woman sunbathing in a swing on the beach.

Skynesher/Getty Images

9. Sunscreen is bad for your skin

The conversation about sunscreen safety is primarily related to oxybenzone and other chemical ingredients present in some sunscreens. The debate over the health risks of using chemicals in sunscreens continues. Although the FDA has not found significant evidence that chemical sunscreens are harmful, more research is needed to draw conclusions. A study published on the JAMA Network found that 6 of the 13 ingredients in chemical sunscreens currently being considered by the FDA were absorbed and detectable in the bloodstream up to three weeks after a single application.

In addition, some sunscreens can irritate sensitive skin or cause an allergic reaction due to ingredients such as fragrance. You can avoid this by choosing a sunscreen formulated for sensitive skin.

10. Sunscreen doesn’t expire

If you’ve ever used old sunscreen and had the separated mixture in your hand, you already know that sunscreens expire. Over time, the ingredients break down and become less effective.

This doesn’t mean you have to buy sunscreen every year. According to the FDA, sunscreens are required to maintain their effectiveness for at least three years. So you can use the same tube of sunscreen for several years; just pay close attention to the expiration date on the bottle. You should not store your sunscreen in direct sunlight or in an area where it’s too hot. Storing it in your car is not a good idea.

It’s too long; didn’t you read it?

There are a lot of myths about sunscreen, many of which can lead you to make the wrong decision for your skin. The bottom line is that sunscreen should be an essential part of everyone’s routine, especially if you’re going to spend time outdoors. Reapply every 2 hours.

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