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10 myths and truths about sun protection

21 Jul 2023
6 Min
Health tips

How many times have you heard that sunscreen is only necessary in summer? Or that being in the shade or wearing clothing completely protects you from the sun? Does sunscreen really expire? Is it just as effective to apply it at home as it is on the beach?

In this article, we debunk some common myths about sun exposure and sunscreen use so you can enjoy the sun responsibly and safely. It is time to separate fact from fiction and understand what really protects our skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

MYTH 1. Using sunscreen prevents tanning.

Tanning is the result of skin exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, which stimulate melanin production in the skin. Sunscreen, by having filters that block or absorb UV rays, helps reduce the risk of sunburn and protects the skin from sun damage such as premature aging and skin cancer.

It is important to note that tanning itself is a sign of skin damage caused by UV rays. The use of sunscreen does not completely prevent tanning, but it does help protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun. If you want to tan, it is recommended to use sunscreen with an adequate SPF and to take precautions, such as limiting the time you are exposed to the sun and seeking shade during peak UV radiation hours.

MYTH 2. A sunscreen with SPF 50 is much more effective.

A sunscreen with a higher sun protection factor (SPF), such as SPF 50, provides greater protection against UV rays compared to a lower SPF. The SPF indicates the sunscreen’s ability to block UVB rays, which are primarily responsible for sunburn.

For example, a sunscreen with SPF 50 blocks about 98% of UVB rays, while one with SPF 30 blocks about 97%. Therefore, the higher SPF offers slightly more protection. This means that SPF 50 provides more protection and allows you to be in the sun longer without burning compared to SPF 30.

MYTH 3. A higher SPF protects for longer.

All sunscreens, regardless of their SPF, degrade over time due to exposure to sun, water, sweat, and the use of clothing and towels. Therefore, it’s important to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you’re swimming or sweating profusely. This also applies in the case of using waterproof sunscreens.

In addition, a sunscreen that protects against UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburn, but also against UVA rays, which can cause long-term damage, such as premature aging of the skin and the risk of skin cancer, is important. fur.

MYTH 4. Makeup with SPF acts as a sunscreen.

Sun protection factor (SPF) makeup can provide some protection against UV rays, but it is usually not enough to provide complete and adequate sun protection.

While some makeup products may contain SPF ingredients, the amount of makeup normally applied to the face is insufficient to achieve the level of protection indicated on the packaging. To obtain adequate sun protection, it is recommended to apply an even and sufficient layer of sunscreen under makeup.

MYTH 5. Sunscreen is not so necessary in dark skin.

All skin types, regardless of their tone, need sun protection. While it’s true that people with darker skin have more melanin, which provides some natural protection against UV rays, it’s not enough to completely prevent sun damage.

Dark-skinned people can also suffer sunburns and develop diseases related to sun exposure without adequate protection, such as premature aging, dark spots, cell damage and the risk of skin cancer.

MYTH 6. Sunscreen does not expire, it can be used from one year to the next.

Most sunscreens have an expiration date printed on the packaging, indicating when the product will expire and should no longer be used. It is essential to pay attention to this date and not use a sunscreen that has passed its expiration date.

Over time, exposure to heat and sunlight can break down the active ingredients in sunscreen, decreasing its ability to protect skin from UV damage. Therefore, to ensure that you are adequately protected, it is advisable to use a sunscreen that is within its expiration date and to store it properly in a cool, dark place when not in use.

MYTH 7. Sunscreen is only necessary in summer.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays are present throughout the year, no matter the season or climate. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can damage our skin.

That’s why it’s important to wear sunscreen every day, no matter if it’s summer, winter, fall, or spring. Protecting our skin is essential to prevent sunburn, premature aging and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Especially if you practice outdoor activities.

MYTH 8. Being in the shade or covering yourself with clothing offers protection from the sun, so it is not necessary to use sunscreen.

Although being in the shade or wearing clothing provides some protection from the sun’s rays, sun damage is still possible if sunscreen is not used properly.

UV rays can reflect off surfaces and bounce off your skin, which means that even under shade, some of the sun’s rays can reach your skin and cause damage. Also, clothing does not offer complete protection against UV rays, especially if it is lightweight or light-colored.

MYTH 9. It is just as effective to apply sunscreen at home as it is at the beach.

The effectiveness of sunscreen does not depend on where you apply it, but on how you apply it and how often you reapply it. The most important thing is to make sure that you cover all exposed skin areas with an even layer of sunscreen.

However, applying sunscreen at home before going outside has some advantages. Well, by applying sunscreen before leaving home, you protect yourself from the first moment you expose yourself to the sun, so if you have to travel until you reach the beach or pool, you make sure you don’t get burned. Also, make sure to cover all exposed skin areas with sunscreen. This includes areas that we sometimes forget about at the beach, such as ears, neck, back of hands, and feet, as sometimes, in the midst of excitement and activities, we can neglect applying sunscreen if we leave it to last. moment.

On the other hand, and very importantly, when applying sunscreen at home, you have time to make sure it is properly absorbed into the skin before going out in the sun. This allows the sunscreen ingredients to form a more effective protective barrier against UV rays.

MYTH 10. If the sunscreen is waterproof it lasts longer.

Even if a sunscreen is waterproof, you still need to reapply it after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. The water resistance of the sunscreen indicates that it maintains its effectiveness for a certain time when we come into contact with water or perspire, but it is not waterproof or permanent.

Exposure to water and friction from drying can remove some of the sunscreen from the skin, reducing its effectiveness. Therefore, it is essential to reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if you are swimming, sweating or have towel dried.

The best prevention involves safe and responsible sun exposure. At CreuBlanca we have a Dermatology Unit made up of a multidisciplinary team of highly specialized professionals in early diagnosis and personalized treatment of multiple dermatological pathologies. We have the most advanced techniques for carrying out dermatological check-ups aimed at the prevention and early detection of possible anomalies derived from prolonged exposure to the sun, such as sunburn, premature aging and melanoma, among other pathologies.