Whether you’re an obsessive skin protector or dedicated sun worshipper, some of the things you think you know about sunscreen are wrong. If you want to avoid skin cancer and look as young as you can for as long as you can, pay attention. The following myths may blow your mind.
1. A base tan helps protect your skin
There’s no such thing as a base tan, or a safe tan for that matter. Any kind of tan is evidence of skin damage. This includes sun beds and natural sun exposure. Desperately want a tan? Get an artificial one!
2. You don’t need sunscreen on a cloudy day — or in the winter
This is simple. You should always wear sunscreen, no matter the season or the weather. If you’re going to be outdoors, you are going to be exposed to UV rays. Plus, applying it every day gets you into an important skincare routine.
3. You only need to apply sunscreen once a day
Staying beautiful and healthy isn’t always easy. You need to work at it! Reapply your sun protection at least every two to four hours, more often if you’re vacationing somewhere tropical or will be out in the sun all day with no shade or breaks.
4. The SPF in my makeup will protect my skin
Do you slather your whole face and neck with a thick layer of foundation? If not, you’ll need a sunscreen in addition to your makeup. And even if you do, you’ll need to reapply in two hours anyway.
5. 80 per cent of sun damage happens before you turn 18
It’s actually closer to only a quarter so don’t think that you’re already a lost cause! You’ve got many more years of skin damaging fun to come!
6. If I have dark skin, I don’t need sunscreen
Most people, regardless of skin colour, are susceptible to sun damage, burns and skin cancer.
7. An SPF 50 is better than an SPF 30
This isn’t necessarily true. The difference in protection above an SPF 30 is minimal and the higher the SPF number, the higher the level of chemicals in the product unless you go with an all natural sunblock that uses only zinc or titanium dioxide, but those only protect up to an SPF 30, anyway.
8. Sunscreen is just as good as wearing a hat
Not so. Sunscreen isn’t a miracle product. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and clothing (preferably clothes with extra sun protection) will protect you better than sunscreen. So consider covering up after getting out of the pool or lake.
9. Sunscreen means I can stay in the sun all day
You should avoid the sun during peak hours. That means between 11am and 3pm. If you can’t stay indoors during that time, at least sit in the shade or take sun breaks. Otherwise, you could end up with more of a burn than you bargained for.
10. Some sunscreens are waterproof
Lies! There are sunscreens that are water-resistant, meaning that they won’t wash away with a little sweat but even these are meant to be reapplied after a swim. If you take anything away from this article, it’s this: REAPPLY YOUR SUNSCREEN over and over and over.
11. You don’t need to use a lot of sunscreen to be protected
Putting on sunscreen is like being on spring break. An adult in a swim suit needs a shot glass—about an ounce—of sunscreen to cover their whole body—and they need that much every time they reapply.
12. I should get at least five minutes of sun every day for vitamin D
Don’t use vitamin D as an excuse to be lazy. Most people don’t apply sunscreen well enough to totally protect them or prevent vitamin D absorption.
13. I have sensitive skin so I can’t wear sunscreen
There is a sunscreen for everyone. You just have to find the right formula for you. There are plenty of products made especially for sensitive skin or even people with allergies. And really, if you actually had sensitive skin, there’s no way you could lounge outdoors without any sort of sun protection.
14. Sunblock and sunscreen are the same
Sunblock is made using natural metals that physically protect skin from the sun and by sitting on top of skin and literally blocking the sun. Sunscreens are made from chemicals that are absorbed by skin and then absorb UV rays instead of your skin. And now you know.
15. You are protected by your sunscreen as soon as you apply it
Sunscreen needs 20 to 30 minutes to become active whereas sunblocks (using zinc and titanium dioxide) are immediately effective. So if you’re using sunscreen, plan ahead and let the countdown to sun time begin!
16. Your shoulders and back are most susceptible to skin cancer
Your lips and ears are actually high risk areas for skin cancer. Protect yourself by applying sunscreen thoroughly and always wearing a lip balm with SPF.
17. The same sun products can be used year after year
Sunscreen and sunblock expire. Check the package for an expiry date. If you can’t find one and you’ve had it for at least a year, throw it out. It probably won’t go rancid but the active ingredients that protect your skin will stop working, making that tube of sun block just a plain old coconut-scented lotion.
WATCH: See how the effects of sun damage are shown through UV camera.