Can we talk about sunscreen myths?
There are so many of them, I don’t even know where to start to debunk them all… And yet I’m gonna try. Because these myths are dangerous.
Here’s the deal: sunscreen isn’t just another skincare product. If you get it wrong, you won’t just get a pimple. You’ll age faster and look 10x older. Oh, and get cancer too.
That’s why you need to know your sunscreen well. Here are some common sunscreen myths debunked:
- Sunscreen Myth #1: All Sunscreens Protect From Both UVA And UVB Rays
- Sunscreen Myth #2: Layering Sunscreens Adds SPF
- Sunscreen Myth #3: I Can’t Get A Tan If I Use A High SPF Sunscreen
- Sunscreen Myth #4: Your Old Sunscreen Bottle Is Still Effective
- Sunscreen Myth #5: It’s Enough To Apply Sunscreen Once A Day
- Sunscreen Myth #6: You Don’t Need Sunscreen If It’s Cloudy.
Sunscreen Myth #1: All Sunscreens Protect From Both UVA And UVB Rays
You’d think this would be a given. How can you sell a sunscreen that protects only from one type of UV rays? And yet, that’s what happened for years…
I admit it’s rare these days, but you can still come across a sunscreen that protects only from UVB rays if you don’t check those labels carefully. How do brands get away with this?
Easy. SPF, or sun protection factor, only measures sunscreen protection from UVB rays. If it blocks 97% of UVB rays, it can be labelled SPF30 even if it offers no protection at all from UVA rays!
That’s not good enough. You need protection from BOTH UVA and UVB rays. Here’s what to look out for on the label:
- “Broad spectrum”: Most Western sunscreens use this term to let you know they provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Plus sign: Asian sunscreens use the PA system. The more + signs next to the PA letters, the more protection from UVA rays the sunscreen provides.
- UVA filters: You can always check the ingredient list to make sure it contains an UVA filter. They are zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, mexoryl, and tinosorb.
Sunscreen Myth #2: Layering Sunscreens Adds SPF
I wish! Wouldn’t it be great if you could use a moisturizer with SPF 15, a sunscreen with SPF 50 and a foundation with SPF 20 and get an SPF of 85?
Sadly, it doesn’t work out that way. Adding more products with SPF doesn’t increase sun protection. You still only get the protection of the highest SPF you’ve applied. In this case, 50.
Related: Sunscreen Math: Can You Add SPF?
Sunscreen Myth #3: I Can’t Get A Tan If I Use A High SPF Sunscreen
First of all, you shouldn’t get a tan anyway. A tan is a sign of sun damage. Period.
Besides, you’ll tan even with sunscreen. Truth bomb: no sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays. SPF30 blocks only 97%. Even SPF100 blocks only 99%.
And that if you apply the required amount (around a glass shot for the whole body) and reapply it every two hours…
In real life, that means you’ll still get a tan even if you wear sunscreen. You’ll just develop it way more slowly (and prevent most of the damage it always brings).
Related: A Tan Isn’t Worth Dying For
Sunscreen Myth #4: Your Old Sunscreen Bottle Is Still Effective
By old, I mean more than one year old. You know last year’s half used bottle you’ve kept for the upcoming summer. It won’t do.
Sunscreens start losing effectiveness after one year. Even sooner than that if you’ve kept them under or near the heat (like in your car). Don’t risk it.
Related: Skincare Products Expiration Dates
Sunscreen Myth #5: It’s Enough To Apply Sunscreen Once A Day
Maybe if it’s a really, really, really gloomy day and you’re spending most of it inside.
Most days, sunscreen reapplication is a necessary evil. Here’s why:
UV filters get deactivated by sunlight. The longer they’re exposed to UV rays, the sooner they lose their effectiveness and leave you unprotected.
Not to mention, you’ll brush sunscreen off your skin when you swim, sweat, dry yourself off with a towel…
Half of the sunscreen you’ve put on half an hour ago has already gone. Do your skin a favour and reapply it often.
Sunscreen Myth #6: You Don’t Need Sunscreen If It’s Cloudy.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but those UVA rays are sneaky. They easily penetrate even through the darkest of clouds and hit your face, causing all sorts of damage.
Just because you can’t see the sun, it doesn’t mean it’s not hurting you.
Do you know of any other sunscreen myths that needs debunking once and for all?
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