Sunscreen Myths To Know Before Summer


We all know (or should know, if you have been reading my blog semi-regularly) that sunscreen needs to be worn on the exposed skin every day.  This rule should still be practiced on cloudy days and in the winter.

However, I do realize that a lot of people only think about sunscreen in the summer.  Therefore, I wanted to dispel and discuss some common myths about sunscreen so that this skin-saving and life-saving product can be used properly.

Just remember that the following items in bold are myths, not tips.  You should read them, but do the opposite of what they say.

Myth #1-  Sunscreen Is Not Needed On Cloudy Days.

UV_Rays_BounceEven if you cannot see the sun on cloudy days, the ultraviolet rays that cause sunburns and photoaging can still penetrate and cause their damage.  In fact, ultraviolet rays are present every day of the year no matter what the weather forecast says.

Don’t listen to the weather report.  Use your sunscreen every day.

Myth #2-  The Higher The SPF Number, The Better.

The SPF, or sun protection factor number, is an index of approximately how long you can stay out in the direct sun without burning.  Most skin experts agree that SPF 30 is adequate in general.  Higher SPF numbers only protect a small percentage better than SPF 30.

Also, if you do use a high SPF sunscreen, do not be duped into thinking you do not have to reapply.  For example, SPF 100 still needs to be reapplied approximately every 100 minutes that you are in the direct sun.

Myth #3-  Waterproof Sunscreens Don’t Need To Be Reapplied After Swimming.

teen_sunscreenSome sunscreens are water-resistant, but no sunscreen is truly waterproof.  They tend to be more oil based and lotions, but they will wear off.

After you swim or sweat and use a towel, the sunscreen will rub off.  The best approach is to reapply your sunscreen after swimming and after toweling off.

Myth #4-  Sunscreen Can Be Applied Anytime.

Of course, you have to apply sunscreen sometime, but there are better times to apply sunscreen than other times.  To work properly, sunscreen needs to be applied to at least 1/2 hour before you are exposed to the sun.

Your skin needs at least 30 minutes to be absorbed and therefore to protect the skin from sun damage.  My best advice is to leave the sunscreen by the sink in your bathroom so you can apply it to your skin right after you wash your face and/or shave.

Myth #5-  It Doesn’t Matter How Much Sunscreen One Puts On As Long As Some Is Used.

sunscreen_handsMost people do not think too much about how much sunscreen they use.  In fact, they feel good about things if they just remember to put it on.

However, studies have shown that most people who use sunscreen do not use enough.  Most skin experts recommend using about an ounce of sunscreen to cover the exposed parts of the face and body for the average person.

Myth #6-  Last Year’s Sunscreen Is Good Enough.

Like lots of products, sunscreen has an expiration date.  The ingredients in sunscreens will break down chemically over time depending on multiple factors including exposure to heat, light, and moisture.

Just like you wouldn’t drink a glass of expired milk, you shouldn’t use expired sunscreen.  A good rule to follow is to buy new sunscreen at the beginning of each summer season.

Don’t believe the myths out there about sunscreen.  Use it every day, especially when out in the summer.  Your skin will thank you for it!

If you have any questions about sunscreen or about any skin damage you may have sustained from prior sun worshiping earlier in life, call us at (207) 873-2158.  You can also call us to set up a free consultation to better determine your unique dermatological needs.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
This entry was posted in Sun Protection. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Categories

  • Archives