Top 10 Myths and Realities of a Sunscreen

Do you keep hearing conflicting reviews and information about the use and benefits of sunscreen? Well, if you want to know what is the fact and what are the myths about sunscreen, read on!

sunscreen

What is a Sunscreen?
Sunscreens are cosmetic products which are a combination of several different ingredients which prevent the ultraviolet rays of the sun from reaching your skin. Since there are two types of sun radiations; UV A and UV B which affect the skin, the sunscreens also vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.

What are the most common ingredients of a sunscreen?
Sunscreen is either a chemical block or a physical block. The chemical block is absorbed in the skin while the chemical ingredients prevent the sun rays from reaching the skin. Physical block is not absorbed into the skin.

Should I consider SPF while selecting a sunscreen?
SPF or sun protection factor is simply a measure of the ability of the sunscreen to offer protection against the UV B radiation from damaging the skin. Go for a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher as they are efficient in providing protection against the UVB.

Look at it this way; if you have sunscreen with SPF it will filter out approximately 93% of the incoming UVB radiation; if you have sunscreen with SPF 30, it will filter out 97% of incoming UVB radiation while a sunscreen with SPF 50 will keep away approximately 98% of the UVB radiations.

Top 10 Myths and Realities about Sunscreens

Myth 1
If I wear sunscreen, I will become deficient in Vitamin D.
Reality
Dermatologists are of the view that sunscreen cannot cause vitamin D deficiency. Also, the sunscreen cannot block all the rays of the sun reaching the skin. A high SPF sunscreen can block only 97% of the radiation and only if you use it as recommended.

In addition vitamin D is also available through dietary supplements and foods like eggs, salmon, milk and orange juice. Sunscreen is important because it reduces the risk of skin cancer; hence it is recommended that your diet should comprise of a daily dose of 1000 IU of vitamin D3 from diets or supplements especially if you have a photosensitive skin are obese, or elderly.

Myth 2
Since sunscreen is very concentrated, it will work if I use only a little amount.
Reality
Owing to this myth, many people do not apply the required quantity of sunscreen. If you apply lesser amount of sunscreen, the sunscreen protection will reduce from SPF 30 to SPF 5. The correct usage recommendation states that an adult should take at least 1 tea spoon on each limb, back and torso and half a teaspoon for the face and neck. Applying adequate sunscreen is directly related with its efficacy.

Myth 3
Sunscreen starts working as soon as you apply it.
Reality
Wrong! Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going out. The sunscreens generally work by creating a chemical layer on the surface of the skin which blocks the rays of the sun. This takes some time as the sunscreen binds to the skin and then starts its action. Sunscreens are also suggested to be applied on dry skin.

Myth 4
A sunscreen with SPF 30 will provide double the protection as compared to the protection provided by a sunscreen of SPF 15.
Reality
SPF is the length of the time before your skin starts burning without sun protection. Hence, if your skin starts burning after 20 minutes without sun protection, then a sunscreen of SPF will provide approximately 150 (15×10) minutes of protection and a sunscreen of SPF 30 will offer protection for approximately 300 (30×10) minutes of protection. Hence the time period for which the protection is provided is doubled but not the amount of protection offered by the sunscreen.

Myth 5
If I reapply sunscreen, I can stay out in the sun for longer hours.
Reality
No. It is highly recommended to avoid sun exposure as much as possible. Applying sunscreen regularly is intended to maintain the efficacy and effectiveness of the sunscreen at par with the initial application of the sunscreen. Hence, reapplying will not prolong the period of protection offered by the sunscreen which can allow you to stay out in the sun. In other words, reapplication of sunscreen does not give additional protection time.

Myth 6
I don’t need sunscreen today because it’s cloudy outside.
Reality
UVB rays can reach your skin even on the cloudy days which may lead to skin damage, sun burns and skin cancer. Hence, it is advisable to use sunscreen in spite of clouds or a cold weather.

Myth 7
If apply makeup with sunscreen, it will protect me from the sun.
Reality
Maximum sun protection is provided by the SPF of the product with the highest value. So if you use a sunscreen of SPF 30 and a foundation with SPF 15, the sun protection achieved is still of SPF 30. SPF is not an additive value. So, put your sunscreen first, if you are wearing make-up and sunscreen.

Myth 8
Sunscreen is not a medicine, I can keep it forever.
Reality
Like all other cosmetic products sunscreens also come with a shelf life which you can find on the tube or the bottle. If you use a sunscreen which is out of date, it may have a reduced efficacy. The product can also be damaged if not stored properly. If your sunscreen looks like a mixture of water and some solid, do not use it.

Myth 9
Sunscreen is toxic.
Reality
It is agreed that there are several chemicals present in the sunscreen which enter the blood stream and eliminated in the urine. But, so far no studies have demonstrated that the sunscreen use can lead to negative effects. In case you are concerned about the use of chemicals, you can only use physical sun blockers such as zinc and titanium.

Myth 10
Sunscreen causes cancer.
Reality
This myth started making the rounds following a study which showed that after applying sunscreen people had a false sense of security that they can stay out in the sun for longer hours and not experience the damaging effects of sun. Sunscreens were also used as tanning aids. These individuals became more prone to skin cancer. In addition, they also believed that melanoma is inherited and cannot be prevented by sunscreen use.

Reality is, it is important to use sunscreen all the year round. Along with this, other measures of sun protection such as use of wide brimmed hats, sunglasses, long sleeves, full pants and avoiding sun exposure when it is most harsh i.e. between 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM are also important.

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