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Sunscreen: 12 Myths And Facts

Dr. Aisha Humaira

3 min read

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Protecting yourself from the sun is becoming increasingly important. Direct exposure to the dangerous rays of the sun can cause premature aging, wrinkles on the skin, and can even lead to cancer. Sunscreen, therefore, helps protect the skin from the damages done by the sun. However, it is important to understand what it actually does, and what are merely myths surrounding it. Following are some of the myths, debunked.

1- Sunscreen is not always needed:

Many people believe that sunscreen is to be used when the whole body is exposed to sunlight, like when swimming etc. This is not true; any area of the skin that is exposed to the sunlight should be protected by the sunscreen. Another common misconception is that sunscreen is not needed on cloudy days. Regardless of how much of sun is out there, there are still present UV radiations from it. Therefore, it is necessary to wear sunscreen on an overcast day as well.

2- Dark skinned people don’t need sunscreen:

Dark skinned people have melanin in their skin which people assume means that they don’t need sunscreen for protection and that they can’t be sunburnt. However, the truth is that whilst melanin helps protect against UVB, they are still vulnerable to radiation from UVA. They are just as likely to suffer from a sunburn, albeit not so easily but burning all the same.  Also, melanin doesn’t prevent from dangers of skin cancer, aging and wrinkles, which occur due to unprotected exposure to sunlight.

3- Oxybenzone in the sunscreen causes health problems:

The myth that sunscreen is dangerous to health comes from a study in which lab rats were exposed to oxybenzone which is present in sunscreen as well. However, this study was later debunked; the effects are different in humans. This compound poses no health problems to humans.

4- Sunscreen hinders the absorption of Vitamin D:

The UV in the sunlight helps the body produce Vitamin D, which can potentially be stopped by the sunscreen. However, the body only needs a small amount of sunlight to make the respective quantity of the vitamin. 5 to 30 minutes of exposure suffices. On the contrary, longer exposure to sunlight can cause the body to break down vitamin D.

5- SPF in makeup is enough:

Many people rely solely on makeup’s SPF to protect them. However, whilst it is a good thing, it should be used alongside the sunscreen. A large amount of product must be used to get the required SPF, which is not possible generally, and therefore, the exposure to sun remains unsolved. So, don’t rely on makeup alone for protection.

6- Use tanning beds to get the protective tan protects from harm by sunlight:

Many people believe that if they artificially get a layer of tan through the tanning bed, they will have some semblance of protection against the sun. This is not a good idea; tanning beds use UVA- the more dangerous and penetrative radiation for tanning. Also, tan is of little good to protect the skin and prevent the sunburns.

7- Wearing sunscreen prevents tanning:

A common misconception is that using sunscreen prevents tanning. Sunscreen merely protects from the harmful effects of UV and doesn’t stop the body from tanning. A physical barrier in the form of clothing or hat etc. is to be employed to prevent tanning.

8- All sunscreens are the same:

People believe that all brands have the same sunscreens that perform the same task. However, the ingredients of different sunscreens vary along with different brands. They offer different levels of protection from different types and ranges of radiations. The SPF levels also vary per the product.

9- Sunscreen is more efficient protection than covering up:

Many people work under the assumption that sunscreen is better than a physical barrier against the sunlight. This assumption is incorrect; always no exposure to the sun is better. Hats, umbrella, long clothing etc. all prevent the contact of the sun rays with the skin, which obviously should be preferred.

10- Sunscreen doesn’t have an expiration:

Sunscreen has products which breakdown over time. This causes them to not work in protecting the body. Hence, it is important to keep track of the expiration of the product as it is rendered useless after it.

11- One application per day is sufficient:

A lot of people think that wearing sunscreen once suffices, especially if it has high SPF value. Due to exposure to the rays, the compound in it are broken down and don’t remain effective. Therefore, sunscreen should be refreshed every 2-4 hours, regardless of the SPF levels.

12- Sunscreen is water proof:

No sunscreen is completely water proof. Therefore, even if marked so by the brand, the sunscreen should be reapplied to the respective areas.

It is important to take care of your skin and protecting it from sun damage. The UV rays present in it pose serious health risks like cancer and should not be treated lightly. Finding the best sunscreen for your skin is hence imperative.

Seek help from an expert to get guidance regarding which one to use. Book an appointment with top dermatologists in Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Aisha Humaira - Author Dr. Aisha Humaira is a dermatologist based in Karachi. She offers a whole range of services including laser hair removal, acne treatment, dermatology, fat freezing, PRP and others.

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