With summer in full swing, sun protection for the whole family needs to be top of mind. But with so myths and facts swirling around about sunscreen, how do you know what to believe? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered (pun intended!)
MYTH 1: “If I apply sunscreen in the morning, I’m set for the day”
TRUTH: You need to apply sunscreen at least every two hours, especially if you are outdoors, as well as after swimming or sweating – even if the sunscreen says it’s water-resistant. The chemical blockers in sunscreen only last about 90-120 minutes, as they get broken down by UV light.
MYTH 2: “The higher the SPF, the higher the protection”
TRUTH: The sun protection factor (SPF) doesn’t refer to the level of protection, but to the length of time you’re protected. SPF 100 does not provide double the protection of SPF 50, and SPF also doesn’t add up – using SPF 20 and SPF 10 together don’t give you SPF 30.
MYTH 3: “I don’t have to use sunscreen on cloudy days”
TRUTH: The sun’s rays might not be visible to the naked eye, but they definitely still burn through the clouds, which doesn’t block UVA or UVB rays. So even if you might not be heating up in the sun, those UV rays are still burning your skin.
MYTH 4: “I only need UVB protection”
TRUTH: There are two types of UV rays we need protection from – UVA (aging) and UVB (burning). The two kinds have different wavelengths, with UVA rays penetrating much deeper into the skin to cause lasting damage. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen for protection against both.
MYTH 5: “Darker skins don’t need SPF”
TRUTH: All skins need to be protected from the sun’s harmful rays to help prevent skin cancer as well as premature aging.
MYTH 6: “Sunscreen is linked to cancer”
TRUTH: There are no scientific studies linking sunscreen ingredients to cancer – unlike UV rays, which have been proven to cause skin cancer. If you’re worried about the ingredients in your sunscreen, stick to physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide-based sunscreens (also known as mineral sunscreens). These sit on top of the skin and deflect the sun’s rays. They can feel heavier and rub off easily. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays, instead of deflecting them. They spread easier and are more wearable.
MYTH 7: “I can use last year’s sunscreen for this year’s holiday”
TRUTH: Sunscreen degrades, so best to buy new bottles every year.
MYTH 8: “The SPF in my moisturiser or makeup is enough protection”
TRUTH: You need a separate SPF product for your face to ensure adequate protection from the sun. Use at least a teaspoon of product to ensure you cover your face, ears and neck sufficiently.
MYTH 9: “Getting a tan before going on holiday will help protect me from the sun”
TRUTH: A tan might boost your confidence before going on that beach holiday, but it in no way gives sun protection. And remember, the only safe tan, is a fake tan.
MYTH 10: “Sunscreen makes me break out / the sun helps dry out my acne”
TRUTH: Some sunscreens can clog pore, so if you’re worried about your skin staying clear, use an oil-free formula. And while exposure to the sun might make your skin look better by giving it a glow and appearing to “dry out” spots, the long-term damage from UV rays is so much worse than a few pimples.