If you care about your skin’s health, you’re probably someone who uses sunscreen. You apply, reapply, and do your research. But while you are concerned about proper skincare, some common myths leave many vulnerable to sun-damaged skin, premature aging, and the risk of skin cancer. To help clear up these misunderstandings, our team at Connecticut Facial Plastic Surgery has created a list of common beliefs and dispels destructive myths.
1. Sunscreen is Not Necessary if I Spend Most of My Day Indoors
Although this principle is believable, you should apply sunscreen to your exposed skin, even if you are inside most of the day. If you spend your indoor time by a window, it’s even more critical to lather up. Although glass can block some of the UVA/UVB rays that cause skin damage, windows don’t stop all of the rays. Some studies indicate chronic exposure to light through windows can accelerate skin aging by five to seven times.
2. A Base Tan Helps Prevent Sunburn
Again, not true. There is no such thing as a “base” or healthy tan. UV radiation at any level is a carcinogen, and unprotected exposure to these rays will increase your risk of skin cancer. Tanning is caused by permanent DNA damage to the skin. As a defense against sun damage, the body puts up a defensive wall or darker pigment to stop sunburn. This repair is never perfect and may lead to premature wrinkles and lines and even skin cancer in some cases.
3. Using a Higher SPF Means More Time in the Sun
This principle is valid only if we use sunscreen as directed. The SPF is a measure of the product’s ability to prevent UVB rays from penetrating the skin. If it takes twenty minutes for your unprotected skin to turn red, using SPF 30 will increase that by a factor of 30. But these products are tested under laboratory conditions. Sweat or going in and out of the water can reduce effectiveness and should be considered when spending time in the sun. Generally, you should plan to reapply your sunscreen frequently (every hour to an hour and a half) when outdoors, and even more often when swimming or sweating.
4. Sunscreen Prevents Body From Absorbing Vitamin D
This is a myth. Although the sun’s radiation stimulates vitamin D production, failing to protect your skin is not a healthy way to obtain it. Liberally using sunscreen will not prevent UV rays from reaching your skin and providing your body with vitamin D. Plus, dietary supplements and consuming foods like fatty fish, milk, and orange juice will also deliver this essential vitamin to your body. If you are concerned about your level of Vitamin D, you can have this checked at your next doctor’s visit.
5. Some Sunscreen Ingredients Are Harmful to Your Skin
Most concerns about sunscreen safety center around oxybenzone. All ingredients in sunscreens that are approved by the FDA, including oxybenzone, have been in use for decades. There is no supporting evidence that sunscreen ingredients are harmful to our health.