Summer means more time spent outdoors in the hot sun. Sure, the sun feels good shining down on your bare shoulders but spend too many hours enjoying its warmth without protection, and you could end up with a painful sunburn. Even if you avoid the sunburn, there’s still bad news. Sun damage is cumulative, and it may be years before you pay for hours of sun worship with skin cancer or skin that’s prematurely aged. As you may have already guessed, it’s important to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen myths abound, and many people face the summer sun without adequate protection. Here are some sunscreen facts and myths you need to know about to enjoy the sun safely and responsibly.
Waterproof sunscreen is good protection when you’re romping around in the pool all day.
No sunscreen is completely resistant to moisture. Stay in the pool or sweat long enough, and your sun protection will come off. Sunscreens labeled as waterproof retains its SPF factor for up to 80 minutes after being exposed to moisture. A sunscreen that’s water-resistant holds onto its power only 40 minutes after getting wet, and if you dry yourself off with a towel, you’ll remove some of the sunscreen along with the moisture. Reapply waterproof sunscreen at least every 2 hours.
A sunscreen with a very high SPF gives you better protection.
A sunscreen labeled SPF 90 doesn’t give you triple the protection of one with an SPF factor of 30. In fact, it’s only 3-4% more. To get adequate sun protection, look for a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 that blocks both UVA and UVB light. UVB rays are the ones responsible for burning, but damage from UVA rays causes deeper sun damage and premature aging. Protect yourself against both. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 will block about 97% of the sun’s rays. If you apply the proper amount, which is about one ounce for the average person, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 will give adequate sun protection.
You can skip the sunscreen on a cloudy day.
Clouds offer no protection against the sun’s damaging rays. Surprisingly, ultraviolet light from the sun can even pass through glass. This means you can accumulate damage even when you’re driving around in your car. That’s why it’s a good practice to cover any exposed skin with a sunscreen every time you go outside.
Moisturizers with SPF are good sun protection.
Many women buy a multipurpose moisturizer and sunscreen combination to save time and money, but these combo products don’t always live up to their claims. Some of the best-selling moisturizers with sunscreen don’t adequately filter out UVA light, the kind that’s linked with aging.
In addition, many women only apply a thin layer of these products. This reduces their sun protection power significantly. Most multipurpose sunscreen products aren’t water resistant either, which means they need to be reapplied more frequently. Don’t depend on them for sun protection when you go to the beach.
Sunscreen is all you need for sun protection.
Sunscreen helps to prevent sunburn, but it’s still not clear whether it protects against skin cancer and melanoma. Don’t depend on a tube of sunscreen to save your skin; combine sunscreen with sun protective clothing and a wide-brimmed straw hat. Don’t forget eye protection. Exposure to UVB rays from the sun increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration of the retina, the most common cause of visual loss in older people. Sunscreen is important, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security.
The Bottom Line?
Damage from the sun’s rays accumulates over time, and you can’t undo it. Enjoy the warm weather and sunshine, but do it safely.
American Melanoma Foundation. “Facts about Sunscreen”
Good Housekeeping.com. “Five Sunscreen Myths”