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  • Writer's pictureHollywood Institute

The Importance of Sunscreen: Debunking Common Sun Protection Myths

No matter what you've heard, one of the most important steps in your skincare routine is applying sunscreen — or sunblock, depending on the product. Daily use is the best way to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, as exposure can lead to wrinkles, sun damage, and skin cancer. Even when covered from the sun, it's a misconception to think you're protected.

Let's take a quick look at some of the other common myths around sun protection.

Myth #1: Sunscreen is unnecessary on cloudy days.

Just because you can't see the sun doesn't mean you're protected from UV rays. Apply sunscreen as you would on a sunny day, even more so when heading out in the snow. Many people don't realize the rays bounce off that white stuff, so the exposure happens twice. The same can be said for water and sand. A cloudy day on the beach could damage your skin.

Myth #2: Sunscreen is unnecessary when wearing SPF makeup.

Wrong. Though your makeup may contain a certain amount of SPF, chances are good that you're not wearing enough to limit the harmful effects of the UV rays. Some experts even warn that you're only getting half of the protection "factor" listed on these products — the same holds for your moisturiser. A sun protection moisturiser may offer more protection from the sun, as people generally apply the product liberally. Like sunscreen, however, the SPF wears off. You will need to apply it again later in the day. Plus, you may not be applying it everywhere you need it. Neck sun protection is just as important as face sun protection. Make sure the application covers all exposed areas of the skin.

Myth #3: Sunscreen is waterproof.

Wrong again. Sunscreen isn't waterproof — nor is it sweatproof. Manufacturers can no longer make such claims. Instead, you may see sunscreens claiming to be water-resistant, such as those formulated for "active" individuals. This means the product should withstand moisture from 40 to 80 minutes. After that, you must reapply to protect the skin from UV rays.

Myth #4: Sunscreen is unnecessary for people with darker skin.

This misconception has been around for years, mainly because it's harder to see sun damage on someone with a darker complexion than on someone with fairer skin. The sun doesn't discriminate with its harmful effects. No matter your skin color, race, or ethnicity, sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before heading outdoors. A good rule of thumb is to reapply every two hours, which goes for men, too.

Myth #5: Sunscreen can be lower in SPF with a base tan.

This misconception goes together with the previous one. Just because you have a base tan doesn't make sunscreen less important. You're still getting the same level of UV rays. Always wear a water-resistant, broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, especially when spending extended periods outdoors. A mineral sunscreen can offer the most protection.

Myth #6: Sunscreen is harmful.

Some people believe that sunscreen is harmful and may even cause cancer, as the mixture does absorb into the skin. While there's no evidence to back up such a claim, it is an understandable concern. So many people choose natural sunscreen over more traditional products. If you use a natural sunscreen, know it is less effective in protecting you from UV rays. It's often better to choose a sunblock that sits on the skin's surface and provides a protective layer between you and the sun. The best sunblocks contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Myth #7: Sunscreen doesn't need to be reapplied as frequently when it has a higher SPF.

The SPF, commonly known as the sun protection factor, gauges the sunscreen's protective capabilities. An SPF of 30, for example, blocks 97% of UVB rays, whereas an SPF of 50 blocks 98%. That SPF has nothing to do with how long the product lasts. No matter the SPF level, you must reapply the product every two hours outdoors. When sweating, applying sunscreen or sunblock every hour is best.

As much as everyone loves the sun, you must protect yourself from its harmful effects. It's just part of a good skincare routine. If you'd like to learn more about sun protection or skin care, the Hollywood Institute can answer your questions. Contact us today.


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