The best way to care for skin is to be smart about sun exposure. Too much unprotected exposure to the sun can cause a host of problems, from premature wrinkling to skin cancer.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, millions of cases of skin cancer are reported each year, and many more may go undetected. The best way to protect skin from the sun is to stay out of the sun. When that is not feasible, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen can guard against damage from ultraviolet radiation.
Although sunscreen is an enormous help, it is not foolproof. Sunburns and skin damage can occur even when using sunscreen, and user error accounts for much of that damage. To get the best results from any sunscreen product, consumers can educate themselves about proper application and avoid certain information inaccuracies.
Myth: The best sunscreen is the one with the highest SPF. Actually, the best sunscreen is the one you will use regularly. Make sure you like the scent and the feel of the sunscreen. Decide if you prefer a sunscreen that is grouped together with a moisturizer or a makeup foundation. Try sunscreens that are lotions or sticks to figure out which application works best for you. Once you’ve found a product you like, stick with it. But make sure the sunscreen has an adequate sun protection factor, or SPF.
Myth: I only need sunscreen on sunny days. The sun can prove harmful even on cloudy days. You may not be safe indoors, either, particularly if you spend a good deal of time next to an open window. Window glass will only block certain types of UV light, making sunburn possible even if you are indoors or riding in a car. It’s a good habit to apply sunscreen daily regardless of if you will be out in the sun.
Myth: Spray sunscreens are as effective as the rest. Spray products may not deliver enough sunscreen to the skin because droplets are dispersed unevenly. Furthermore, the propellents used in spray sunscreens could be harmful if inhaled. Opt for sunscreens that are applied by hand and can be adequately coated over all areas of the skin.
Myth: Sunscreen does not need to be reapplied, especially if it’s water-resistant. There is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. The Food and Drug Administration recently prohibited the use of the term “waterproof” because consumers falsely believed their sunscreen products would not wash off. Water-resistant sunscreens will be effective for a certain number of minutes before they need to be reapplied, usually between 40 to 90 minutes. If you have been sweating profusely or have been in the pool or ocean for awhile, play it safe and reapply often.
Myth: A little drop of sunscreen is all that’s needed. Many people are applying far too little sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun. The average person needs about an ounce of lotion to cover his or her entire body. Think about the size of a shot glass and use that amount.
Myth: Spending more money on SPF 50 will get me superior protection. The rate of protection from SPF 30 to SPF 50 is marginal. SPF 30 (when applied correctly) can protect against 97 percent of UVB rays. That’s adequate for many people. It’s most important to choose a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays.