6 Sunscreen Myths Busted!

by Gio
6 sunscreen myths

I could write an entire encyclopaedia about sunscreen myths. There are that many, yes. And they all have one thing in common: they’re super dangerous.

Sunscreen isn’t just another skincare product. You get it wrong, it may give you a pimple at worst. Sunscreen is medicine for your skin. Use it the wrong way and you’ll look 10 years older. Or worse, get cancer.

That’s why you need to get to know this fella well. And that means debunking some common myths about it. Here’s the harsh truth instead:

1. All sunscreens protect from UVA AND UVB rays

You’d think this would be a given. The truth is quite different, my smart friend. 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! And that’s not nearly good enough.

If you want adequate protection, look for “broad spectrum” on the label. If you buy Asian sunscreens, the amount of + signs next to the PA letters will tell you how good its UVA protection is. Or you can check the labels. if it has zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone or mexoryl, it passes the test.

Related: What Does PA On Sunscreen Labels Stands For?

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2. Layering sunscreens adds SPF

I wish! Wouldn’t it be great if you could use a moisturizer with SPF15, a sunscreen with SPF50 and a foundation with SPF20 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 the highest SPF you’ve applied gives you. In this case, 50.

Related: Sunscreen Math: Can You Add SPF?

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. The sad truth is that no sunscreen blocks 99% of UV rays. SPF30 blocks only 97% and SPF100 around 99%. And that if you apply the required amount (around a glass shot for the whole body) and reapply it every two hours.

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).

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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.

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5. It’s enough to apply sunscreen once a day

Again, I wish! Reapplication is a pain! It’s also a necessary evil.

UV filters get deactivated by sunlight. The longer they’re exposed to UV rays, the sooner they go bad. Plus, sunscreen is brushed off the 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.

Related: Why Do You Need To Reapply Sunscreen Every Two Hours?

6. You don’t need sunscreen if it’s cloudy.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but those UV rays are sneaky jerks. 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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Dao July 21, 2009 - 5:04 pm

Good myth buster tips there, Gio! And I have one for you: don’t put your chemical sunscreen in the car, they chemical will disintegrate very fast because of the heat.
.-= Dao´s last blog ..Rubenesque Paint Pot: Golden Peach Shimmer Goodness! =-.

Nikki July 22, 2009 - 1:57 am

I say “AYE!” I can’t stop nodding when I read your post! very helpful!!!
.-= Nikki´s last blog ..Nail Art Tutorial: Bling Bling Nails =-.

Nicola July 22, 2009 - 3:44 am

some great tips!! im on the look out for another sunscreen!
.-= Nicola´s last blog ..Shiseido TM Vs. Laura Mericer TM (Oil Free) (Long post) =-.

prettybeautiful July 22, 2009 - 9:10 am

oooops! i am guilty of no.6 =/

Lydia July 22, 2009 - 12:22 pm

I always get tan even through a high SPF sunscreen!

beautifulwithbrains July 22, 2009 - 12:49 pm

Dao: that is a great and useful tip, thank you! 🙂

Nikki: thanks hun, you’re so sweet. I’m glad you found it helpful.

Nicola: thanks! Finding the right sunscreen can be hard. I like physical ones but they can leave a white cast. Hope you find a great one!

prettybeautiful: it’s easy to forget to wear sunscreen if the weather is bad. But you can always use a foundation or sunscreen with SPF, they give some protection too 🙂

Lydia: that’s good 🙂 I wish more people realised that they can get a tan even when protected by a high SPF sunscreen.

Vonvon July 23, 2009 - 1:32 am

Myth #1. I only learned the truth on that recently at my Clinique consultation. But isn’t it that only the top most layer of the SPf counts? For example, moisturiser with SPF 30, foundation with SPF 15 on top of the moisturiser, net SPF would be only 15? I am still a little confused on this. Hope you can help me clarify this. Thanks, gio.
.-= Vonvon´s last blog ..Review: Kiehl’s Grapefruit Liquid Body Cleanser And Exfoliating Body Scrub =-.

beautifulwithbrains July 23, 2009 - 11:44 am

Hi Vonvon,

it doesn’t really matter what product is on top, it is the SPF rating that counts. The level of protection you get is that of the product with the highest SPF you used. So if you apply moisturizer with SPF 30 and foundation with SPF 15, the SPF you get is 30. That is because it is the highest SPF product you used.
Hope this was clearer. If you have more questions, just let me know 🙂

Ann Marie November 9, 2017 - 5:12 am

But even if you add layers of different products with different SPF isnt it helpful in case all the layers are thin?

Gio November 26, 2017 - 12:12 pm

This would help even out protection. Let’s say, for example, that you missed a little patch of skin with your SPF 30 sunscreen. If you apply a SPF 25 foundation on that patch, then that would be protected too. In other words, the more layers, the more chances every inch is covered. But every inch still only gets the protection of the higher SPF applied there.

Lucy San Ingham February 22, 2019 - 6:35 pm

I have a rule: If I can see my hand in front of me without putting a light on, I need sunscreen.
Don’t forget the damage that blue light does, too!
Put a blue light screen on your phone, computer and any other device you look at for a long time and also use skincare that protects against it.
I use Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Anti-Polution serum for this. I reckon products to protect the skin from blue light will be The Next Big Thing.

Gio February 28, 2019 - 5:38 pm

Lucy, that’s a great rule! I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

Lucy San Ingham February 22, 2019 - 6:40 pm

…Oh and I forgot to add that Clè CCC Cream is amazing. Broad Spectrum spf45 and calls itself a tinted moisturiser but it’s thicker and more covering than my foundation!

Gio February 28, 2019 - 5:39 pm

Lucy, what a great find! Thanks for sharing.


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