Busting Sunscreen Myths: Insights Straight from Dermatologists

**Wearing Sunscreen: Debunking Common Myths and Misconceptions**

**Myth 1: I only need sunscreen on sunny days**

Even on cloudy days, UV radiation can still be harmful as up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate through clouds. It is crucial to wear sunscreen daily, regardless of the weather. Windows also allow the passage of UVA rays, which can damage the skin, so sunscreen should be applied both indoors and outdoors.

**Myth 2: All sunscreens are “toxic”**

Sunscreens undergo rigorous safety testing and must meet regulations before approval for use. The ingredients used in sunscreens have been evaluated and deemed safe by regulatory bodies. If you prefer a more “natural” product, look for sunscreens that include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

**Myth 3: Applying sunscreen once is enough for the day**

Applying sunscreen in the morning is not sufficient. Sunscreen should be generously and evenly applied at least 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure. It is important to reapply every two hours, or immediately after sweating or swimming, as sunscreen can rub off or lose its effectiveness over time.

**Myth 4: Higher SPF means longer protection**

SPF (sun protection factor) indicates protection against UVB rays, which cause sunburn. SPF 30 provides adequate protection, blocking about 97% of UVB rays. Higher SPFs only offer a slight increase in protection, so it is still necessary to reapply sunscreen frequently regardless of the SPF level.

**Myth 5: Sunscreen never expires**

Sunscreen does expire, just like food or makeup. Check the expiration date on your sunscreen as expired products may have an altered consistency and degraded active ingredients, affecting the efficacy of the product. Generally, sunscreen lasts about three years.

**Myth 6: Some sunscreens are waterproof**

No sunscreen is waterproof. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen that is water resistant. Water resistance indicates how long a sunscreen will stay effective on wet skin. After sweating or swimming, sunscreen should be reapplied regardless of whether it claims to be “water resistant.”

**Myth 7: Sunscreen is the only thing you need to protect yourself from the sun**

While sunscreen is essential, it should not be the only method of sun protection. No sunscreen offers 100% protection from UV radiation. Complement the use of sunscreen with sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, UPF clothing, and avoidance of the sun during peak hours. Yearly skin checks and consultations with a dermatologist are also important for early detection of skin changes or abnormalities.

By debunking these common myths and misconceptions, dermatologists emphasize the importance of wearing sunscreen correctly and adopting a comprehensive approach to sun protection for maintaining healthy skin and reducing the risk of sun damage and skin cancer.

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