UV rays harm skin – period! You have heard that from your Beauty Parlour lady, Times of India, your Dermatologist and your Mom. Direct sun exposure puts people at higher risk of cancer—but there’s also a numerous other ways the sun messes your skin. Sunscreen is a medium to protect one self from this. However many myths surround sunscreen, I am almost always confused what amongst all this needs to be believed. So I did some research and quizzed my dermatologist about it. Summer is almost here, so here is an effort to separate the sunscreen facts from the fiction.
Myth: No need to wear sunscreen at all when you are completely covered with clothing.
Myth: Sunscreen is unnecessary when its raining or cloudy!
Myth: I am always in a closed environment, I don’t need sunscreen.
WRONG! Looks like sun – damage is still a very big possibility in all the above situations. One needs to wear sunscreen, everyday – all year round.
Myth: Physical Sunscreens are safer than chemical sunscreens.
Note: There are two different kinds of sunscreens – chemical and physical (mineral). Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays and physical sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays.
The unsafe narrative came into light because initially the chemical sunscreens used ingredients that were unstable and caused irritation. But with better technology and research, chemists have been able to formulate chemical sunscreen that work without any damage. But which amongst them offers superior protection is debatable.
Myth: Higher the SPF number better the protection.
That is partially correct. The SPF rating system is there to measure the capacity (measured in time) of a sunscreen to block UVB radiation. The current SPF rating system applies to UVB rays only, since they cause sunburn. UVA radiation is also a huge factor in damaging the skin. We don’t feel the effects of UVA rays because they don’t cause sunburn. They penetrate deeper into the skin and cause bigger problems – skin cancer and wrinkles. At the present time there is NO approved Sun Protection Factor rating system that measures UVA rays.
The higher number simply means one can stay out longer without getting sun burned. Provided enough has been applied in first place. Often we don’t apply as much sunscreen as needed, making an SPF-30 work more like an SPF-15. The higher SPF number offers a false sense of security, its important to reapply every 2 hours.
Looking for sunscreen recommendations? Head this way