Myth #1 All Sunscreens Are The Same (Sunblock and Sunscreen are the Same Thing)
FASLE: Nope. Sun blocks create a physical barrier on your skin, using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to reflect and scatter UV light off the skin surface so UVA and UVB rays can’t penetrate and cause damage. Sunscreens are absorbed into your skin, and use chemicals like oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate and other filters to absorb UVA and UVB rays where they are deactivated and degraded by contact from organic chemicals in the sunscreen. Sun blocks have a slightly greasier consistency than chemical sunscreens. Some critics charge chemical sunscreens with endangering human health by disrupting the endocrine system, mimicking sex hormones, and causing DNA damage. But it is worth noting none of the major health organizations have taken a stand against chemical sunscreens. When faced with the task of buying suncreen, the best choice is simply the formula that you know you’ll wear everyday. Look for full-spectrum or broad-spectrum coverage that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Myth #2 I Can Skip It
FALSE: Sunscreen and sunblock should be used in addition to the biggest form of UV protection out there: avoidance. Wear protective clothing. Clothing and a hat are even better than sunscreen, the more covered up you are, the less sunscreen you need. Try to stay indoors between the peak hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wear sunscreen or sun block, but try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Up to 70 per cent of skin cancer cases can be prevented by avoiding skin damage from UV rays, says the Canada Safety Council.
Myth #3 A Little Sunscreen Will See Me Through The Day
FALSE: The general principle is to reapply every two to four hours. Sunscreen does breakdown with time. Don’t be stingy when you’re putting it on yourself or your children. To properly cover your whole body, you would have to use enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass. A good way to conserve sunscreen is to cover up with clothing. Clothes are more reliable than sunscreen. You don’t have to worry about forgetting about it or reapplying it. If you get into the water, you may need to reapply more often. The FDA doesn’t allow sunscreen makers to claim that their products are “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” or identify their products as “sunblocks” because, the FDA says, those claims overstate their effectiveness. Sunscreens can claim that they are “water resistant,” but they have to specify how long that lasts. You may also want to check on whether your prescriptions make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Certain blood pressure medications can make your skin more sensitive to the sun and so can some antibiotics, such as doxycycline, which is an oral antibiotic used to treat acne. Be sure to talk to your doctor about this,” Stein says.
Myth #4 I Put Sunscreen On My Face, Arms, Legs, Back, And Neck — So I’m Set
FALSE: When it comes to sun safety, you need to pay close attention to every part of your body. Melanoma can form in areas where the sun doesn’t shine directly. You may have overlooked some key areas. The ears and the back of the neck are commonly neglected. You can actually get sunburn on your scalp, so wearing a hat is a good way to get protection. It will also shade your face, and that will give you good face protection. Don’t forget about your lips. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing a lip balm with an SPF of at least 30.
Myth #5 Last Year’s Bottle Is Still Ok
TRUE: It’s important to look at the expiration date because contrary to popular belief, sunscreen does expire. Sunscreen that is fresh, which can be only a couple of months old or less, is more likely to hold true to its SPF rating at the time. It’s best to store a sunscreen at room temperature and to not expose it to extreme heat like a hot car, as this can cause the product to break down more easily. You should use enough so that you’re not using the same bottle summer after summer. If you’re doing it right, you’re not going to have leftovers next year. Check the expiration date on your sunscreen bottle. Some sunscreens break down quickly, especially the ones that give you UVA protection.
Myth #6 You Can’t Get Sun Damage On A Cloudy Day
FASLE: Applying sunscreen is necessary even on cloudy days, while driving in a vehicle or sitting in an office. Believe it or not, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate through clouds and fog, which helps explain why people often have serious sunburns on overcast days if they spent a consider amount of time outside with no sun protection. Just because you can’t see your shadow doesn’t mean you’re safe from the sun’s damaging rays.
Myth #7 A Base Tan Protects Your Skin From Sunburn
FALSE: There is no such thing as a safe or protective tan; any tan at all is a sign of skin damage. Skin tans in response to UV damage to the skin’s DNA; a tan is the skin’s attempt to repair sun damage and prevent further injury. But these imperfect repairs can cause gene defects that can lead to skin cancer.
Myth #8 Put On Your Sunscreen Just Before You Leave The House So It’s Fresh
TRUTH: You know when the label says you have to apply a sunscreen 20 or 30 minutes before you go into the sun? They mean it. That’s how long it takes sunscreen to absorb into your skin. Venture out on a high-UV day and you could burn before it even kicks in. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-based sun blocks sit on top of the skin and work immediately. So if you’re a slather-it-on-at-the-last-minute type of person, they may be a better choice for you.
Myth #9 I Don’t Need Sunscreen While Swimming
FALSE: Unless you’re wearing a wet suit (as in full-body scuba or surf gear), you need sunscreen or sun block. Products labeled “water-resistant” maintain their SPF level after 40 minutes of water exposure. The FDA doesn’t allow sunscreen makers to claim that their products are “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” or identify their products as “sunblocks” because, the FDA says, those claims overstate their effectiveness. Regardless, always reapply your sunscreen after towelling off.
Myth #10 Chemicals In Sunscreen Are More Dangerous Than Skipping Sun Protection
FALSE: Consumers should take precautions when buying sunscreen, being on the lookout for these two ingredients: avobenzone and oxybenzone. Avobenzone is not stable and tends to break down once formulated and when it neutralizes UV rays on the skin. Oxybenzone products are absorbed through the skin, and the chemical has been demonstrated to be a hormone disruptor. However, consumers who want to avoid those sunscreens should do so, but emphasized not using sunscreen is far more dangerous than exposure to its ingredients. Current research shows that when used as directed, sunscreens are safe and effective. The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection program.