Protecting your skin from the sun’s rays not only keeps you free from sunburn, it also protects against premature aging. Applying a sunscreen or skin care product with a sun protection factor (SPF) can keep your skin younger-looking, and free from sun damage. However, many myths exist regarding SPF and sunscreens – especially regarding when you should wear sunscreen and how long it protects you. Here are some tips for staying sun-savvy.
SPF MYTH: Sunscreen with SPF 80 protects twice as well as sunscreen with SPF 40.
TRUTH: The SPF measurement indicates what percentage of the sun’s rays is blocked when wearing the sunscreen, but the numbers are not as cut-and-dry as they may seem. For example, a sunscreen with an SPF 30 blocks out 97 percent of the sun’s rays while SPF 50 blocks out 98 percent. To truly protect you, sunscreen must be a high enough SPF, and you must apply enough of it. The National Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) recommends wearing an SPF of at least 15, although you really shouldn’t go below 30 if you really want to protect your beautiful skin. If you are applying sunscreen to your entire body, apply at least 1 ounce, which is roughly the equivalent of a shot glass’ worth. Most people apply only 25 percent this amount, according to the SCF. If you are applying to your face, you will need to put on at least a quarter’s worth.
SPF MYTH: If it’s cloudy outside, you don’t need to wear sunscreen.
TRUTH: The sun’s damaging rays are there, even if you can’t see them. If you’re stepping outside, you need sunscreen. If you hate the heaviness or greasy feel of traditional sunscreen, remember sunscreen is now available in many forms. There are several oil free versions that are super lightweight and silky feeling. Also, there are plenty of makeup powders and foundations as well as moisturizers with built-in SPF – score! Find the formula that works for you and wear it every day.
SPF MYTH: Only older adults need to wear sunscreen every day.
TRUTH: If you are older than six months of age, you need to wear sunscreen every day, according to the SCF. People of nearly all ages can benefit from sunscreen. Consider it a part of your lifestyle and regular skincare routine, and you will be rewarded with less wrinkles and sunspots.
SPF MYTH: Once I put on sunscreen, I’m protected all day.
TRUTH: One application of sunscreen won’t protect you against the sun all day. Some activities mean you should re-apply sunscreen every one to two hours. This includes when you are sweating or exposing your skin to water, such as when you are swimming.
If you are simply going through a typical, fairly sweat-free day, re-applying sunscreen every two to four hours should be enough to protect you. But being that we’re all busy, a swipe of a powder SPF may be the trick to touch up during the day. Plus, it fits neatly in your purse and won’t mess up your makeup – wink, wink.