Get a quick update on sunscreens, SPF and the facts and myths that surround the sun. Summertime in Annapolis means water, boats and sun. Don’t let your kids (or yourself) burn from misconceptions or sneaky advertising.
SPF 100 and SPF 30 are about the same: FACT!
In the chart to the left, it’s easy to see that SPF 100 blocks out 99% of the rays while SPF 30 blocks out 97%. So there is only a 2% difference between SPF 30 and 100!
SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburns, but not UVA rays, which are more closely linked to deeper skin damage. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the risk of skin cancer. And notice that SPF 100 does not block 100%–none of them do! Read more on this.
Drinkable SPFs are just as effective as sunscreen: Myth!
New York dermatologist Dr. Jessica Krant told Huffington Post in 2014 that the products are “totally unsubstantiated pseudoscience” that “do not list any active ingredients anywhere publicly available that might suggest true efficacy in any kind of protection from sun damage.” (The company lists the ingredients as “Distilled Water, Multiple Vibrational Frequency Blends.”)
In addition, Dr. David J. Leffell, professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine stated in the same article, “I would be very suspicious that this product would not be validated scientifically. Moreover, why would you want to take something that affects your whole system when you are dealing with what is effectively a surface issue?”
You CAN get burnt through a car window: Fact!
Car windows only filter (out) UVB rays. You can burn from the UVA rays, and those rays are associated with melanoma.
Waterproof sunscreen is water proof: Myth!
New FDA regulations have now made it against the law to suggest that no matter how long you’re in the water, you’re protected. Sunscreens can be water-resistant but the new regulations will list the time in the water you’ll be protected for usually 40 or 80 minutes max.
Some SPFs are applied only once a day: Myth
Apply sunscreen every two to three hours, no matter what brand or type you are using.
SPF clothing is better than wearing a cotton T-shirt: Fact!
SPF clothing is 100-percent effective. The sun shouldn’t penetrate through to your skin at all.
If there’s hair on your head, you don’t need to protect your scalp: Myth
Men and women alike should always protect their heads by either wearing a hat or applying sunscreen. People with thinning hair need to be particularly careful about exposed areas of their scalp.
If you wear sunscreen and reapply regularly, you can stay in the sun all day: Myth!
If you want to protect yourself from the sun, you need to reduce your time in the sun. If you burn in five minutes without sunscreen, even with a good sunscreen with a high SPF (and reapplication), if you spend eight hours in the sun, you can still burn.
If you’re not burnt, your skin is OK: Myth!
If your skin changes color at all, you’re experiencing sun damage. Sure, a burn is worse for your skin, but both doctors agree that chronic sun damage (through a tan), can also have lasting results.
I have a darker complexion so my skin is more protected: Fact!
Yes, people with darker skin tones have SPF built into their skin and are better protected, but it’s still necessary to protect your skin from the sun.
Natural sunscreens are better for your skin: Myth
Last summer, Jessica Alba’s eco-friendly brand The Honest Company saw complaints from customers who used the non-toxic sunscreen and still got serious burns. Look for sunscreens that list zinc or titanium on the ingredients–which, by the way, are naturally occurring ingredients also.
All sunscreens are as good as another: Myth!
All sunscreens are not created equally. In fact, EWG (Environmental Working Group) and Consumer Reports both put out annual sunscreen guides suggesting that certain sunscreens are much better than others–and some are much worse than others! Read more about best and worst sunscreens.