Temperatures are already hitting the high 90s and, before we know it, we will be in 100-degree weather. However, the heat does not stop Arizonans from frolicking in the season’s activities. While enjoying the sun, it’s important to make sure that you are doing so safely. When you expose your skin, the largest organ on the human body, to the sun’s harmful rays, you get skin damage, accelerate aging, wrinkles and skin cancer. So don’t let sunscreen myths prevent you from getting maximum protection.
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When protecting your skin, it’s important to have the facts. Below are five sunscreen myths debunked.
1. Higher SPF means greater protections.
While no sunscreen blocks harmful UV rays completely, SPF 30 protects up to 97 percent of the sun’s rays. There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA impacts skin aging, while UVB impacts skin burning and skin cancer. Any SPF higher than 30 only sees an insignificant 1 to 2% increase in sun protections, while also being more expensive and providing a false sense of security. Also, the more expensive the sunscreen, the more sparing most people tend to be with the product. The dose of the sunscreen is just as important, so if you are not using an entire shot glass (the dose amount) of sunscreen for your body, you are only getting a percentage of the protection. If you are using half the dose amount, then this is similar to getting a prescription from your doctor, but only taking half the dose.
2. Wearing SPF leads to Vitamin D deficiency.
Multiple studies show that sunscreen use does not cause Vitamin D deficiency. Even when you wear SPF your body will still take in at least 2% of the sun’s UVB, and your body only requires a small percentage to convert into vitamin D3 – the active form of the nutrient.
3. Broad Spectrum SPFs are not necessary.
Broad spectrum SPF indicates that the sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA rays that the sun emits. While UVA rays are more typically associated with skin aging and UVB is associated with skin burning, both UV lights put oneself at a higher risk of skin cancer – broad spectrum can ensure that you’re protected all around.
4. Windows reduce sunlight exposure.
While windows do block UVB rays, UVA rays can still get through and penetrate the skin’s surface. If you spend time near windows at home or spend a great deal of time commuting, it’s still beneficial to use SPF in some form. E3
5. All sunscreen is the same.
There are chemical blocks, (ingredients such as avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone) and physical blocks, (minerals such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide). The chemical blocks go on easier but take 30 minutes to become active and thus you are unprotected for 30 minutes if you put it on when already outside. The physical blocks are a little thicker but provide the best protection (reflect the UV rays off your skin) and work instantly. Also, be aware that the chemical blocks can expire, and the by-products are thought to have carcinogenic properties so don’t use old chemical block sunscreens or a bottle that has been in your car all summer as heat makes the chemical blocks expire sooner.
Some other quick tips: It’s still necessary to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day, clouds do not block UV rays and your skin is just as susceptible to damage as a day spent in the sun. Also, people with darker skin should still utilize SPFs, melanin acts as a protective layer to lower the risk of skin cancer, but continuous sun exposure can still lead to a sunburn and aging skin damage.
The sun is strong in summer months, so make sure you are using the right products to protect your skin! Also, make sunscreen a staple in your routine, so you can keep your skin healthy year-round.
Pablo Prichard, M.D., aka Dr. Scottsdale, has been the Chief of Plastic Surgery at Honor John C. Lincoln Hospital for 14 years, Medical Director for Plastic Surgery and is Senior Partner at Advanced Aesthetics Associates. Dr. Prichard serves more than 2,000 patients every year and has specialized in both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. For more information, visit drscottsdale.com and follow on Instagram and TikTok @docscottdale.