As the weather starts to warm up, the pollen starts to subside, and states start to slowly ease their shelter-in-place restrictions, you might be thinking about venturing outside for the first time in eight weeks (or is that just me?).
Even if you’re not ready just yet to hit the great outdoors, one thing is for sure—sunscreen is a must. Unfortunately, sunscreen is sometimes confusing. What does SPF mean? What about if you’re not planning on leaving your house any time soon? Can you burn even if you have a darker skin tone? Well, I’m here to dispel some of the more common sunscreen myths, and more. Join me!
Myth #1: You don’t need to wear sunscreen indoors
When you wake up in the morning for your 9 a.m. Zoom meeting, you might think that you don’t need to wear sunscreen—you aren’t leaving your house, after all. But this is probably the #1 biggest sunscreen myth of all time (and one I believed until a few years ago). Why do you need to wear sunscreen indoors? Well, let me break it down for you.
That you don’t need to wear sunscreen indoors is probably the #1 biggest sunscreen myth of all time.
There are two different types of rays the sun emits, UVA and UVB rays. The easiest way to remember how to distinguish the two is that A=aging and B=burning. UVA rays are the rays that cause free radical damage (aka fine lines, sun spots, and wrinkles), while UVB rays are the ones that cause you to tan or, on a bad day, burn. Both can cause skin cancer.
Windows are typically treated to prevent UVB rays from penetrating (which is why you can’t really tan by laying in front of your sunny window), but UVA rays are a different story. Those rays can penetrate through windows, and since you never burn or tan, you’re not really seeing the effects. Have you ever seen those photos of truckers where the left side of their face looks completely different from the right? Yeah, that’s sun damage, baby, and we don’t want that, so slap on some sunscreen!
Myth #2: I’m good—there’s SPF in my foundation
WRONG! While it’s cute that more and more companies are rolling out foundations with SPF protection, it is not in any way close to providing the same level of protection of a regular sunscreen. Why? Well, they don’t provide adequate protection. You’d need to slather on about double (or maybe even triple) the amount of foundation you normally wear to achieve the same protection as wearing sunscreen.
Not only that, sunscreen is meant to be reapplied every couple of hours or so, and I don’t think there is anyone on Earth who wants to reapply a layer of foundation every two to three hours. Keep using your foundation, but make sure to wear a proper sunscreen underneath so you’re really protected.
Myth #3: I just need to apply once a day, and I’m fine!
False! Sunscreen is designed to be reapplied throughout the day. I know, I can hear you—what if I’m wearing makeup? But I hate the greasy feeling of sunscreen! Do I really have to keep putting it on?
Well, you don’t *have* to do anything, but if you’re trying to ward off premature aging and protect your precious face, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you’re going to want to reapply your sunscreen every two hours, no matter the SPF. (And if you can’t do that, here are some reapplication workarounds.) And if you’re swimming or sweating during your next outdoor run, you’re going to want to bring along a mini SPF to reapply to your skin immediately.
You don’t *have* to do anything, but if you’re trying to ward off premature aging, reapply your sunscreen every two hours, no matter the SPF.
Myth #4: People with darker skin tones don’t need to wear sunscreen
Everyone, yes, everyone needs to wear sunscreen, no matter what their skin tone is. Even though darker skin tones are less likely to get sunburned, all skin tones are susceptible to premature aging, as well as skin cancer. Those UVA rays do not discriminate!
As a matter of fact, those with darker skin tones are more likely to die from skin cancer, as they are diagnosed much, much later, and as a result, typically have a worse diagnosis. To be safe, everyone should wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, which brings me to my next myth …
Myth #5: If I use SPF 100, that means I’m getting double the protection of an SPF 50
Nope! SPF is short for Sun Protection Factor, which means that the number after SPF is related to how long you can stay in the sun, not how much it’s protecting you. So, if you’re wearing an SPF 15, you can maybe stay outside on the beach for about 20 minutes before you start to burn, but if you’re using an SPF 100, you might be able to stay outside for five hours or more before you start to feel the negative effects. So, basically the higher the SPF, the longer you can stay outside. The more you know!
Moreover, SPF is related to UVB rays, not UVA rays, so you still need to reapply every two to three hours to get broad-spectrum protection.