Sunscreen is a chemical lotion or gel that filters out or absorbs some of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation to protect your skin from the direct exposure.
Wearing sunscreen every day is highly important to prevent skin cancer and premature aging, which is usually characterized by black spots and changes in skin color.
However, does everyone need to wear sunscreen?
Smarter Health has gathered numerous references from experts to explain the myths and benefits of sunscreen. We will also tell you how to choose the right sunscreen and how to use it.
If you are not sure whether your skin type is suitable for wearing a sunscreen product, you may consult a dermatologist.
Myths Around Sunscreen
There are many myths circulating about sunscreen. It is important for you to be informed to protect yourself from false information that could potentially lead to skin problems.
All sunscreens are the same
Not all sunscreen products contain the same ingredients. In fact, they can be distinguished from the product’s basic ingredients and SPF level. You should also pay attention to the active ingredients contained in sunscreens before making a purchase.
Higher SPF means longer protection
Before you purchase a sunscreen product, you must pay attention to the SPF number on the packaging. The higher the SPF number, the more protection it provides to your skin. However, some people mistakenly think that the higher the SPF number, the longer the sunscreen will protect your skin from UV rays. You should still avoid staying too long under the sun and should reapply your sunscreen.
Dark skin does not need sunscreen
This is one of the most popular sunscreen myths out there. Many people fall into the myth because dark skin contains higher levels of melanin – which can withstand the side effects of UV rays. However, regardless of what your skin tone is, you should still wear sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays.
Waterproof sunscreen only needs to be used once
When you swim or go to the beach, how many times do you use sunscreen? Even if you use waterproof sunscreen or sunblock, you will still have to reapply it after you get out of the water or swimming pool. Wait around 10 to 15 minutes for the sunscreen to be completely absorbed by your skin. The reason why you need to reapply is because your sunscreen protection only works for a limited duration. The more you are exposed to water, the less sunscreen coverage for your skin.
Only wear sunscreen when it is sunny outside
Some people think that you do not need to apply sunscreen if the weather is cloudy outside. This is not true, as the risk of exposure to UV rays still exists, whether it is sunny or rainy outside.
Health Benefits of Sunscreen
It is never too late to start taking care of your skin by wearing sunscreen. There are many reasons why you should use sunscreen every day, even when you spend time indoors.
Here are some health benefits of sunscreen, including:
- Prevent skin cancer. According to WebMD, about 95% of skin cancers occur due to daily UV radiation and sunlight exposure, including non-melanoma skin cancer that can affect the mouth, anus, and genitals. Daily wear of sun protection can help prevent skin cancer.
- Prevent premature skin aging. Premature aging skin is indicated by the appearance of black spots and changes in skin color. Daily use of sunscreen can help you maintain a younger look. Using expensive skin care creams and lotions does not matter if sunscreen is not part of your skin care routine.
- Suit all ages. No matter how old you are, your skin needs sunscreen as a skin protection. The risk of developing skin cancer is higher in people who do not use sunscreen everyday. For parents, you are advised to teach your kids the importance of daily application of sunscreen.
- Protect your skin from UVA and UVB exposures. There are two basic types of UV rays, namely UVA and UVB. Each type of UV light has an intensity that varies from season to season. However, the intensity of UVA remains the same during summer or winter. The risk of skin damage due to UVA exposure can be prevented by using sunscreen no matter what season or weather.
- Protect skin even if it’s cloudy outside. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80% of UV rays can pass through thick clouds, even during cloudy weather. This is the reason why you need to apply sunscreen even on a cloudy day.
Choosing The Right Sunscreen
When choosing a sunscreen product, be sure to read the label on the packaging first.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the agency that regulates food and medicine in the United States, urges everyone to consider the following tips before purchasing a sunscreen product:
- Choose a sunscreen with a ‘broad spectrum’ protection. This type of sunscreen product can protect your skin from the dangers of UVA and UVB. All sunscreen products can protect the skin from UVB, but UVA also may also develop the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. Only certain sunscreen products have a broad spectrum.
- ‘Water-resistant’ does not equal waterproof. If the product label says it is “water-resistant”, the manufacturer should also indicate how long the sunscreen will stay on your skin. Is it 40 minutes or 80 minutes? For best results, you should apply sunscreen every 2 hours. Apply more if you are going for a swim or other outdoor activities.
- Choose SPF-30 or higher. The SPF number determines the level of protection provided against harmful UV rays. The higher the SPF number, the better the skin protection. SPF-15 filters about 93%, SPF-30 filters about 97%, SPF-50 filters about 98%, and SPF-100 filters about 99% UVB rays. The FDA also cautions that while sunscreens with SPF <15 may prevent sunburn, it may not reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging.
The Right Way to Wear Sunscreen
Now that you know how to select the right sunscreen for you, we will tell you how to use it properly.
Sunscreen can help reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. Follow these steps to protect your skin from damage caused by sun exposure:
- Apply sunscreen to cover all sun-exposed areas for 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Make sure you do not miss sunburn prone areas such as the scalp, ears and feet.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Reapply sooner than every two hours if you’re sweating or swimming.
- Discard and replace the sunscreen product if it has expired or if there is a change in color and consistency of the cream.
- If necessary, protect your eyes with sunglasses. Wear sun-safe clothing and hats as part of a complete sun protection strategy.
- Look for shelter. Limit your direct sun exposure, especially at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as UV rays are strongest around that time of day.