Sunscreen Myths Busted!
Put your SPF knowledge to the test! Sure, you know it's important to layer on a daily dose of SPF to protect your skin. However, when it comes to buying the correct kind of sun protection, there are plenty of myths and misconceptions. And with the summer sun shining bright, it's more important than ever that you arm yourself with the right knowledge when stocking up on sunscreen. Here are some common myths debunked:
- Only UVB rays are harmful: UVA rays are long waves that penetrate more deeply into your skin, and are the cause of both tanning and premature aging. UVB rays are short waves that burn the superficial layers of skin, and vary by season, location, and time of day. Until recently, it was believed that only UVB rays were harmful, but new research proves otherwise. While UVA rays are less intense than UVB rays, they account for 90 percent of the UV rays in which we are exposed and can cause skin cancer. Therefore, it's vital you look for a sunscreen that advertises protection against both kinds of UV rays, which can also be labeled "broad spectrum."
- Sunblock is better than sunscreen: It's commonly believed that sunblock offers better protection than sunscreen, but what's in a name? As it turns out, there is no actual evidence that sunblock is better, which is why the FDA set new guidelines for labeling sunscreens to avoid consumer confusion. This means you should now be looking for sunscreen labeled "broad spectrum," or for sunscreens containing ingredients like ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.
- The higher the SPF, the better: An SPF, or sun protection factor, is determined by the amount of time it takes for sunscreen-protected skin to burn, versus unprotected skin. In other words, if your skin would typically burn in 10 minutes, an SPF of 15 would protect you for 150 minutes. However, this number does not increase proportionally with a higher SPF number, meaning SPF 30 is not twice as strong as 15. In fact, SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 filters out 97 percent, which is only a four percent improvement. In short, for most people an SPF 15 is sufficient—just remember to reapply!
- Sunscreen can be waterproof: There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, and thanks to new FDA guidelines, that claim should be eliminated from labels. When it comes to lathering up for water activities, instead look for sunscreens that are labeled water-resistant, which stay effective after 40 minutes in the water. Very water-resistant means it holds after 80 minutes of swimming.