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Top Common Myths About Sun Protection

There are so many beliefs about the use of sun protection, for example, before stepping into this profession I always thought you would wear it (sunscreen) during certain seasons (i.e. Summer), the higher the SPF the better protection and that only lighter skinned people needed it. I was so unaware about the effects of the sun, like that damage it could do to your skin and skin cancer. So I wanted to dispel some of these beliefs and list out the top myths associated with NOT wearing sun protection.

  1. Those with darker skin tones, don’t need to wear it. Even though it is true that those with fairer skin have a far higher risk of getting suburns, the darker your melanin will not protect you either. Melanin actually defuses the UVB rays BUT it does nothing to protect your skin from UVA. Regardless your skin tone, you should always wear sun protection because NO ONE is immune to skin cancer

2. The higher the SPF, the more protection you get. I was guilty of thinking this but this is totally FALSE. The difference of blocking the sun protection between an SPF 30 and 50 is approximately 1.7%. According to a Florida Derm, “an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays.” No higher count SPFs offer 100% sun protection. Your best bet, is to make sure you use about a shot glass size and apply sunscreen every 30 minutes while you are out or as often as possible. I generally recommend SPF 15 to 30 for my clients – as long as you are wearing sun protection, I’m happy!

3. Sunscreen never expires. You know, I never put any thought into expiration of sunscreen but as with any product you buy, they have a shelf life and over time the potency does diminish. So using expired sun protection is counter productive. Some expire after 3 years but some have actual expiration dates. If you are unsure as to how long you’ve had and SPF, might as well throw it out and invest in a new one.

4. Sunscreen is waterproof. Unfortunately, this is not true. You may see some sunscreens or SPF say “water resistant” but that means they remain protecting for your skin after a certain amount of minutes after your skin gets wet. Any time you get wet or sweat, small amounts are washing away lessening the protection. So again, after coming out of water or from an activity, reapply!

5. Sun protection isn’t needed in the winter months or cloudy days. I can actually confirm the second part of this myth is false! I remember when I was active duty and had to pull a detail working on the flightline. I was out there for a good 6 hours with a few breaks and wore no sunscreen what-so-ever because it was a cloudy day. After my 12-hours shift I got home and my face felt so tight that when I looked in the mirror I was lobster red. I had gotten burned! I had to rush to the store that night for some aloe to cool my face it was bad. So despite the fact you don’t feel the heat of the sun, and don’t see it, the rays are there shining through the clouds. Think about those that go skiing, you don’t realize that the UV rays are bouncing off the glimmer of the snow and hitting your skin do you? So regardless the weather or season wear your sun screen.

So long story short – despite what you’ve been told in the past always wear sun screen and sun block every time you go out. This will help lessen the chance of aging, burns and skin cancer! If you’d like to learn more about UV rays, check out Skin or AIM at Melanoma Foundation.

If you would like suggestions on what sun protection I recommend, send me a message I’d be happy to help.

BONUS: DID YOU KNOW THAT BLUE LIGHT RAYS CAUSE CAN CAUSE PHOTO DAMAGE TO YOUR SKIN? Be sure to sign up for when I blog about the affects of Blue Rays.

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