There are some beliefs and myths about sunscreen and its application that might be worth remembering aren’t quite true. I’ve heard of some of them quite often and most are things I hear over and over so here are 5 sunscreen myths debunked.
You do not need sunscreen in winter or on a cloudy day
False. You need sunscreen EVERYDAY. The ozone layer and clouds help screen us from some UV rays but at least 80% of the rays still hit the earth and even if you don’t feel the heat of the sun, UVA rays are still present. Not to mention that whatever UV rays that hit the earth get reflected off surfaces and yes, onto our skin.
This is especially true if you live in the city. UV rays reflect off buildings, windows, cars etc and if you aren’t protected by sunscreen or sunblock, you are just soaking up the rays and generating free radicals within your body. During winter or on cloudy days you can use sunscreen with a lower SPF with a minimum of SPF15 but try not to compromise on your UVA blockers.
You do not need sunscreen if you stay indoors
False. Even if you do not get the sun’s rays UVA rays can still penetrate into our homes. Also, UV rays get generated from lights and television screens and computer monitors so do not abandon your sunscreen even if you are planning to stay indoors the whole day.
I can’t wear sunscreen because I will break out
False. Try to look for a sunscreen with physical blockers like Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide or natural sunscreens. It is common for people to be allergic or to break out from chemical sunscreens but physical blockers will have a lower risk of breaking out sensitive skin. This is not to say that physical blockers will 100% be safe for the skin. I discussed what are chemical and physical sunscreens in a previous post.
The higher the SPF the better the sunscreen
False. SPF is a measure of sun protection and an accepted measure of how the sunscreen performs against blocking UVB rays. However there is no general accepted measure of UVA blocking. Japan uses the PA rating for rating UVA blocks which we are familiar with these days. So, in the tropics try to get a sunscreen with at least SPF30 and PA+++ for better sun protection.
I should stock up on a sunscreen I like during a sale
False. Sunscreens have a shelf life of between 2.5-3 years from the date of manufacture. After that the ingredients may not be as effective anymore and you may in fact be doing your skin a disservice by using old sunscreen because the blockers may no longer be doing their job effectively. Always buy sunscreen that is as close to its manufacturing date as possible. This also means that unless you can get fresh stock at a warehouse sale, that is no place to shop for your sunscreens!
Have you heard of other sunscreen myths? Are there other myths you’d like debunked?