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SPF Facts vs Fiction

Summer is coming! Rooftop happy hours, BBQs, beach days… summer equals fun in the sun! While we daydream about escaping work for a day at the park or the beach, we often forget about the damaging effects the sun can have on our skin. Smart sun exposure includes using SPF – a necessity to keep your skin safe this summer. Below we share some common beliefs about SPF and give you the down and dirty on which true and which are myths!

Fact or Fiction?

  1. Higher SPF= more time you can spend in the sun.
  2. You should re-apply waterproof sunscreen throughout your time outside.
  3. A burn is the only sign of sun damage to the skin.
  4. You do not need to protect your scalp from the sun if you have hair.
  5. A product with SPF is the only protection you need from the sun.
  6. Building up a tan will help protect you from the sun.
  7. You should use SPF even during winter months.
  8. People with a naturally darker complexion are more protected from damaging UV rays.
  9. Sunscreens have expiration dates and you should check expiration dates before applying.
  10. You cannot get burnt through a window.

Results!

  1. False! Some SPF products only protect from the UVB rays that cause sunburn, they do not protect against UVAs that penetrate the skin deeper and accelerate signs of aging. Once your past an SPF 30, there is very minimal difference in the percentage of rays blocked. All sun protectant wears off and must be reapplied in order to be effective.
  2. True! All sun protectant will wear off with time spent in the water. In fact, many are now being described as “water-resistant” and labeled with the amount of time it lasts in the water.
  3. False! Sunburn only correlates to damage from UVB rays, the damage from UVAs is much more difficult to see, but is just as damaging.
  4. False! The scalp is one of the areas that burns most frequently on males. Everyone should protect their scalp from the sun with SPF or by wearing a hat, and those with short cuts or thinning hair should be especially careful.
  5. False! As mentioned earlier, SPF products protect from UVB rays and sunburn, not UVAs. Use a broad-spectrum product to help fight UVAs and keep your face covered with hats.
  6. False! Any tan caused from sun is a form of damage to the skin. When the skin is damaged from UVBs, it reacts by producing more melanin which darkens it.
  7. True! The sun can cause damage skin year round. Even though you are not as likely to burn in the winter months, you should still protect your skin against the sun’s harsh rays.
  8. True, but… Those with a naturally darker complexion have natural SPF built into their skin, but do not have protection against cancer-causing UVAs and should still take steps to protect their skin with UVB/UVA blocking products.
  9. SPF typically lasts unopened about 2-3 years. Once opened, the product will likely expire within 12 months. Check the expiration date before applying sunscreen, and make sure to use enough. Most people do not use enough sunscreen! You must apply enough sunscreen to evenly cover all exposed skin. To fully cover the body, most people need 1 oz — the size of a shot glass —  to fully protect themselves. Reapply sunscreen throughout the day – every 60 to 80 minutes if outside in full sun exposure.
  10. False! Although you are less likely to severely burn behind a window, UVA rays still penetrate through glass and can cause damage to your skin.

After separating SPF facts from fiction, you are now equipped to keep your skin healthy and safe this summer. Always make sure to use and reapply SPF consistently on your skin, especially on your face. The easiest way to ensure you apply SPF every single day, year round, is to use a non-greasy SPF moisturizer that protects from UVB and UVA rays!

Photo by Daan Jansen