Spring break time is here and summer is right around the corner. I see a future of beaches, sunshine, and SPF in my future. (There will not be a sunburn in my future ever again If I have any say in the matter). I have a reputation among my friends and family for being a bit sunscreen obsessed.
My porcelain skin is rarely burned and I haven’t developed new freckles in ages because of this obsession. I’ve learned that most people don’t know much about SPF and what it can and can’t do. So, I decided to bust a few myths to help you save your skin.
- The SPF in your makeup is enough
The way most people apply makeup, there is no way to get the amount of SPF your makeup claims. You should always add a sunscreen base layer under your makeup like the Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen or Glossier Invisible Shield. If you are out and sweating or swimming, you can re-apply with Supergoop spray or a powder to up your SPF without disrupting your makeup.
- You don’t have to reapply sunscreen every few hours if you aren’t swimming
Modern sunscreens don’t break down the way older ones did. In fact, they are mostly sun-stable. But you still have to reapply them. Swimming and towel drying is the fastest way to rub off sunscreen, but regular touching and wind can wipe away your protection as well. (It also doesn’t hurt to re-apply just in case you didn’t use as much product as you thought you did)
- SPF 100 isn’t any better than SPF 50
The difference between 15 (blocks 93% of UVB) and 30 (blocks 97% of UVB)might be more than the difference between 50 (blocks 98% of UVB) and 100 (blocks 99% of UVB)and SPF 100 isn’t double the protection of SPF 50, but it doesn’t mean that the higher number isn’t better.
- If you have dark skin you don’t need sunscreen
I have heard this myth so many times from my medium/olive to deep skinned friends. And it is a myth. Just because you don’t burn doesn’t mean you aren’t risking damage or skin cancer. In fact, melanin may help diffuse UVB rays and slow down how quickly you burn (it won’t stop you from burning after extreme exposure), but it doesn’t block UVA rays which are cancer-causing ones. Studies have shown that skin cancer survival rates are lowest among people with darker skin. We all need that SPF!
- All sunblock blocks all UV damage
SPF is only how well it blocks UV-B, the kind of damage that causes sunburns. If you want to know how well a sunscreen blocks UV-A rays, you should look for one that is labeled broad spectrum. If you want to know how well it protects against UV-A rays, your sunscreen should be rated using the PA scale. These rate from PA+ to PA++++.
The healthiest thing you can do for your largest organ is to protect it with a sunscreen that’s at least a broad-spectrum SPF 30 (or PA++) that you regularly reapply while you’re out in the sun. By doing this, I have made it several years without a sunburn, and you can do the same.
Mary Fran Wiley is a well known gluten-free and positive living blogger from Chicago where she writes Curiouser and Curiouser, maintains the Chronic Positivity Project, and has been featured in Allergic Living Magazine, Care2.com and Today.com.