Protecting your skin from sunray can help reducing the risk of cancer, but skin protection is not just about choosing the most expensive sunscreen. However, while some people not using sunscreen or only using it occasionally, others make similar mistakes by believing common myths about sunscreen. Using sunscreen properly is not the only way to avoid skin cancer, but it will help you reducing the risk even further.
Common Myths about Sunscreen and Skin Protection
Marketing gimmicks, ignorance and poorly-researched information have made many people fell into the trap of skin protection myths. Here are some of the most common ones:
- A sunscreen product protects you from UVA and UVB.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If a sunscreen product only has SPF label, chances are it only protects you from UVB. Since 2010, the FDA has worked on more accurate labeling to tell consumers what to expect from sunscreen product. If you are not sure whether a sunscreen also protects from UVA or not, look for these ingredients on the label: zinc dioxide, titanium dioxide, or mexoryl. If you see them, it means that you can get protection from UVA as well as UVB.
- Higher SPF is better than lower SPF.
Just because you buy a 40 SPF sunscreen, it does not mean that you get higher protection level than a 30 SPF sunscreen. This is just a marketing gimmick to make you spend more money. SPF 30 is generally enough for most situations, even if you plan to tan on the beach. Just remember to spend no more than 20 minutes under the sun, and prepare a shaded place to protect your skin.
- You can store sunscreen forever.
You can’t. There is a reason why sunscreen has expiration date; it usually loses most of its effectiveness after 1 year. After about 2 to 3 years, the product is usually completely useless. Simply throw out expired sunscreen or product that has past 2-3 years, since it will not do you any good.
- Applying sunscreen once a day is enough.
Even with the popularity of waterproof sunscreen, skin protection product usually must be reapplied every 2 hours. If you use waterproof sunscreen and go swimming, the sunscreen product will be completely scraped off the skin after 30 minutes in the water.
- You do not need to use sunscreen during cloudy day.
Wrong. You still need it, since 80 percent of sunray can still go through the cloud. The situation is worse if you are surrounded by sand or snow, because they can reflect significant amount of sunray. Even when the day is cloudy, just apply sunscreen as usual.
Finally, when you apply sunscreen to your skin, a small amount will not work. The recommended amount is one ounce per application, which is the same size with your palm. This is why you should use the sunscreen about 15 to 30 minutes before going out; to make sure the product is absorbed perfectly and give you good amount of skin protection when you are out.