8 Biggest Myths About Sunscreen You Should Stop Believing

By now, many of you know the importance of applying broad spectrum sunscreen to combat UVA and UVB rays that penetrate through windows and overcast days.  Proper sunscreen protection is paramount to your everyday skin care routine to combat aging.  Even if you’re using expensive serums and creams for anti-aging, walking around exposed to UV rays without protection will undo all of that and put yourself at risk to premature aging and wrinkles.  Expanding your UV protection knowledge and dispelling sun protection myths while using good sunscreen will give you the advantage to properly exercise prevention and anti-aging. Here are common eight sunscreen myths to dispel: 

Myth 1: You don’t need to wear sunscreen if you cover yourself up  

Wearing a hat, face mask, long sleeve shirts and bottoms while you’re out and about does not mean you’ll be fully protected from UV rays.  This myth is completely incorrect as clothes are not made equally and you can still get a tan.  If you want to wear clothes that provide you with additional UV ray protection, look for fabrics that have been specially treated with chemical UV absorbers.  These specific chemical UV absorbers will prevent some penetration of both UVA and UVB rays. 

Myth 1: You don’t need to wear sunscreen if you cover yourself up

To have sun-protective fabrics, a minimum UPF of 30 is required and for better protection 50+ will provide excellent protection (Source: skincancer.org). If you’re wondering what UPF indicates, it measures the amount of UV radiation that penetrates a fabric and reaches the skin.  Rule of thumb, look for clothes labeled sun-protective with a UPF of 30-50+ (Source: skincancer.org). Even if your clothes contain UV protection, take the extra protective measure by applying sunscreen with broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Myth 2: You can not tan while wearing sunscreen

This is absolutely false.  It is still possible to get a tan while using sunscreen, even when you apply it multiple times.  Sunscreen provides a protective layer to your skin from UV rays and slows down how quickly your skin will tan.  For example, if you apply sunscreen with SPF 50 plus, it will filter 98 percent of UV rays.  There is no sunscreen in the market that will protect your skin 100 percent from UV rays.  The skin does tan as it acts as a defence mechanism of the skin; it helps your body tolerate the sun without getting a sunburn.  To avoid a tan, it is best to apply sunscreen and add extra precautions by carrying a sun umbrella, wearing a hat and clothes with UV protection.

Myth 2: You can not tan while wearing sunscreen

Myth 3: Sunscreen in your skincare and makeup provides enough protection

While it is true that makeup may provide a little protection from the sun, it is not much since it’s not the primary function and it is certainly not a replacement for a healthy sunscreen.  To get the maximum protection, you have to apply sunscreen that provides proper UVA and UVB protection.  Apply a generous amount to your face and neck and a simple rule of thumb, use a teaspoon of sunscreen with broad spectrum protection after moisturizing and before applying makeup.  Makeup should be seen as an additional layer of protection but not the only layer of protection.

Myth 3: Sunscreen in your skincare and makeup provides enough protection

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Sunscreen Myth 4: All sunscreens are made the same

Sunscreens are definitely not made the same and here are two critical things to know before selecting your next sunscreen. 

First, always select a sunscreen with ‘broad spectrum protection’.  We can not emphasize this enough as the number one cause for premature signs of aging and wrinkles are caused by UVA rays.  If you are concerned about anti-aging and want to avoid sunburns, choose ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreens.  

Second, it is important to avoid certain chemicals that are formulated in many sunscreens.  In recent years, breathtaking and magical destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef and Hawaii are imposing laws to protect their fragile coral reefs and marine ecosystems.  They announced that they are banning the use of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, also known as ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate. 

Over 80% of sunscreens available in the current marketplace contain one or both of these chemicals.  Their primary function is to absorb UV rays but the additional concern with oxybenzone and octinoxate is the potential health concern in humans.  Research has shown that these chemicals also absorbed by the skin and can stay in our bodies for an unknown duration.  Skin penetration testing and lab studies have even found traces in breast milk (Source: EWG).  Like parabens, oxybenzone is also a hormone disruptor and it can act like estrogen in the body.

Myth 5: Sunscreen never expires 

Like any other product, sunscreens will naturally expire. Over time, sunscreen active ingredients will break down and leave your skin unprotected from UVA and UVB rays.  

If you want to keep your sunscreen in good condition, make sure you use sunscreens before the expiry date.  Avoid exposing your products to excessive heat or direct sun.  For example, don’t leave your sunscreen in your car, motorbike or even in your bathrooms.  If you’re by the pool or on the beach, place your sunscreen tubes in the shade.  Always throw away expired sunscreen, especially when the colour and/or consistency has changed.

Myth 5: Sunscreen never expires

Myth 6: Using sunscreen will prevent your body from absorbing Vitamin D

In recent years, the importance of having enough Vitamin D has been emphasized and, we agree, it is an important nutrient for your overall health.  The biggest natural source of Vitamin D is sunlight. One of the biggest misconceptions that applying sunscreen will prevent proper amount of Vitamin D in the body. “I wish sunscreen was this effective at blocking out sun!” says dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, M.D. “What’s more, you don’t need four hours at the beach to get enough.” You take in plenty of D crossing the street — even if you’ve already SPF’d up. Have a doctor check your nutrient levels; she may suggest a supplement or a D-rich diet (try salmon, tuna, and eggs).

Solution: Apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before stepping outside.  And even with your sunscreen, wearing a tank top and shorts or skirts for 10 to 30 minutes three times per week should be sufficient for people with light skin complexion.  Darker skin complexion need more time in sunlight to make the same amount of Vitamin D as lighter skin complexion (Source: ncbi ).  Have a doctor check your nutrient levels; Dr. Hirsh suggest a supplement or a D-rich diet.  Check out our blog about Vitamin D to learn more.

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Myth 7: People with dark skin do not need sunscreen

“This is just profoundly, radically false,” says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a Boston dermatologist and past president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery.

This is a dangerous misconception since anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of race, says dermatologist Maritza Perez, MD.  Most skin cancers are associated with ultraviolet (UVB) radiation from the sun or from tanning beds, says Dr. Perez.  

Myth 7: People with dark skin do not need sunscreen

UVA damage is not blocked by melanin in the same way and can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkles.  Therefore, it’s important to find a healthy good sunscreen with broad spectrum protection from both UVB and UVA rays.  It will help lower your risk from sunburns, skin cancer and prolong the appearance of signs of aging and fine lines.  

There are sunscreens that work well with light to dark skin complexions without leaving white streaks or an after grey finish.  Try Soul Story Sun Warrior Sunscreen SPF 50+ with PA+++ protection as the formulation was made to be inclusive for all skin types and tones.      

Myth 8: Rinsing your skin with water is enough to properly remove sunscreen.  

If you are applying and reapplying sunscreen on a regular basis, it is also essential to properly take it off at the end of the day.  We believe that a good cleanser is equally fundamental to applying sunscreen for your everyday skin routine.  Try Soul Story’s pH balanced Purifying Cleansing Foam to remove sunscreen before bedtime.

Are you guilty of making any of these mistakes? Or do you take sun protection seriously?  

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Vivian Story

Soul Story is a bespoke Korean skincare brand founded by Korean-Canadian entrepreneur, Vivian Ke Story. She splits her time in Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, and Seoul where she works with Korean dermatologists and skincare specialists to formulate and select ingredients. Each product is formulated to help with sensitive skin, eliminate dullness, dryness, clogged pores and poor skin texture.

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