You may have heard that one of the most important steps in a skincare routine is putting on sunscreen, and you would be right! Sunscreen is extremely important when it comes to protecting your skin against harmful UV rays, especially during the summer. However, whilst most people know the bare minimum of sun protection, not everyone applies sunscreen correctly. In fact, there are actually many misconceptions most people have regarding sunscreen and sun protection. According to a study done by the American Academy of Dermatology, only 33% of people reported reapplying sunscreen every two hours.
While this may seem like a hassle, it can lead to long-lasting consequences. This is because if you do not protect your skin well, you will increase your chances of getting deadly skin cancer and your skin can show signs of ageing faster. As such, in this article, we have busted a few common myths that most people have regarding sun protection so that you can better guard your skin against the sun in the long run.
Myth 1: Sunscreen is not always needed
A vast majority of people believe that sunscreen is only needed if their entire body is exposed to sunlight. This means they will most likely not wear sunscreen when it is cloudy, or rainy, or if they are mainly indoors. However, this is not true. UV light will still harm your skin, no matter the weather or if you are indoors or not. This is because even if it is cloudy, anything that is exposed to light is exposed to UV rays at the same time.
Even when you are spending time indoors, it is still important that you apply sunscreen to all your exposed areas. While window glass can block UVB rays, it does not protect against UVA rays. In fact, studies have demonstrated that exposing yourself to UVA rays for a long time through windows can speed up skin ageing by up to five or seven years. As such, it is better that you do not risk it and just apply sunscreen every day. After all, this good habit may end up protecting you if you find yourself spending unplanned time outdoors!
Myth 2: Sunscreen will prevent you from absorbing vitamin D
In case you need a slight refresher on biology, vitamin D is a vital nutrient when it comes to remaining healthy. It is essential to bone health, as well as immune and muscle function. The body can easily make it if you expose yourself to sunlight and UV rays. However, the common consensus regarding sunscreen is that it blocks UV rays, so in theory, it should prevent a person from absorbing the proper levels of vitamin D, right?
This is not necessarily true. As doctors and dermatologists advise, the small amount of UVB rays that can get through sunscreen is actually enough for the body to manufacture healthy levels of vitamin D. That being said, if you are still worried about not getting enough vitamin D, then don’t worry. It is still possible to obtain them through your diet and supplements. You can choose to eat foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese, beef liver, and more. If you think you are deficient, you can always speak to a doctor so they can advise you on how to safely get more vitamin D.
Myth 3: People with dark skin don’t need sunscreen
Some people believe if you have dark skin then you do not need sunscreen. There is some slight truth to this. Melanin can, to some small extent, help to diffuse UVB rays and protect against sunburn. So, although people with darker skin are slightly more protected against the sun when compared to those with lighter skin. This is because UVA rays are not blocked by melanin. This can end up damaging your skin and leading it to prematurely age and wrinkle.
Melanin also does not protect people against the risk of sun cancer. Especially if they spend a lot of time out in the sun without any sun protection. Therefore, no matter your skin colour, it is vital that you lather up with those SPFs!
Myth 4: A base tan helps prevent sunburn
According to a few people, they believe that having a ‘base tan’ – so long as it does not burn – can help to prevent sunburn. However, this statement is completely false. In all honesty, there is no such thing as a safe ‘base tan’ or ‘healthy tan’. This is because UV rays are proven to already be a carcinogen. If you remain unprotected, it increases the likelihood of you developing skin cancer.
Unfortunately, although tanning may be all the rage these days, it actually permanently damages the DNA in your skin. When you tan, your immune system will then send enzymes to help repair the damage, and these enzymes will also release darker pigments in your skin to better protect it and prevent further sunburn. However, the repairs are never perfect, and these damages can lead to mutations in your skin cells, in addition to prematurely ageing your skin.
Myth 5: A higher SPF allows you to stay longer in the sun
While this is technically true, this only works if you apply (and reapply) your sunscreen according to its instructions. Which, for most people, is not something they often do. For instance, if you are using a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or SPF 50, it is recommended that you reapply it at least every two hours. This is because SPF is the ability of a sunscreen to prevent UVB rays from damaging your skin. For example, if it normally takes a person 10 minutes for an unprotected piece of skin to start burning, then sunscreen with an SPF of 30 theoretically prevents your skin from becoming red 30 times longer.
However, most sunscreen is tested in laboratories before being shipped to customers. This means that it may not work the same in real-life conditions. For instance, a vast majority of people do not apply enough sunscreen to their skin. As such, always assume that the actual protection of the sunscreen is actually lower than what is stated on the bottle. In addition, the sun and moisture (especially from sweat) can break down and wash away the sunscreen. This is why it is so important to keep reapplying throughout the day.
Check out a guide on how to survive the Australian summer. Incorporate the knowledge from this article and you are ready to rock this summer!