Summer Skincare Myths That Can Damage Your Gorgeous Skin
#1: Yes, you absolutely DO need to apply sunscreen on cloudy days.
You all know the importance of generously slapping on sun protection before heading out for a day at a beach/park/backyard bbq. But what about the rest of the year? Must you? So, what’s the correct SPF value? And if you apply an SPF 30 are you doubly protected than if you were to apply SPF 15?
The facts about sun protection can be fairly mind-boggling. But it's vital you know what's what. Not only is the sun accountable for around 90 percent of skin aging, but according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common cancer all over the world (including right here in the US). A staggering 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day and two people die of it every hour of every day. Now, we don’t know about you, but we find those statistics very worrying.
The good news, however, is that most cases are totally preventable simply by protecting your skin. Of course, we know you’re not silly enough to use tanning beds, so we’re going to scratch that from the equation straight away. But even the most skincare savvy among you might not be aware of the real truth when it comes to looking after your skin in the sun. How so? Because there are way too many myths floating around about what you should and shouldn’t do. Sigh.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to that. Dispell these myths with pure, unadulterated facts. And we're so on that…
Myth #1: You Only Need Sunscreen On Super Sunny Days
The Real Truth: While it might sound like an urban myth, a whopping 80 percent of the sun’s rays pass right through clouds, causing just as much damage to your skin on gray, dreary days as they do on sunny ones. Just remember, sun damage is caused by UV radiation from the sun, not heat, so even though it feels cooler on cloudy days, those nasty rays are still very much there, just waiting to do a number on your collagen supplies and cause havoc to the DNA in your skin cells. UVB rays are certainly stronger in the summer (they’re the ones that burn), but UVA rays are the same strength all year round and they’re the long-term damagers that age you up and are the main cause of skin cancer. You have been warned.
Take Action: Apply sunscreen to any unprotected parts of your face and body every day of the year. Your face, in particular, is constantly subject to exposure and it's very susceptible to aging so look after it with sunscreen and antioxidants. Try Vitamin C Facial Serum every morning before moisturizing for a super-powered hit of antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, aloe vera and hyaluronic acid. Then finish with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. No arguments.
Myth #2: SPF 30 Is Twice As Effective As SPF 15
The Real Truth: Put your math skills aside here because standard principles don’t apply when it comes to sun protection factors. It’s kinda confusing, but the main thing to remember is that SPF 15 blocks around 94 percent of UVB radiation, then anything above that is incremental. An SPF 30, for example, blocks around 97 percent, while SPF 50 gives you approximately 98 percent protection. Even an SPF 100 doesn’t offer 100 percent protection, more like 99 percent.
Take Action: The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) advises sticking with something around the SPF 30 mark for day-to-day use, maybe SPF 50 if you’re out in the sun all day. We agree. Also, make no mistake that a higher SPF means you don’t need to frequently reapply. The truth is, ALL sunscreens last for the same period of time. This means that no matter what SPF you’re using, you must always reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating.
Myth #3: The Sun Can’t Damage Your Skin If You Stay In The Shade
The Real Truth: This is so very wrong. For sure, staying under an umbrella or tree is going to reduce your risk of burning, but while you might be shielding yourself from visible sunlight, those pesky UV rays are still able to reflect off nearby surfaces and hit you where it hurts. Sand, for example, reflects around 25 percent of UV radiation.
Take Action: By all means, sit in the shade (in fact, we advise it), but don’t think you can do this and get away with not wearing sunscreen. You must still regularly and generously apply your SPF. Oh, and try to find solid rather than dappled shade as any holes or gaps will allow a certain amount of radiation to penetrate your skin.
Myth #4: You Don’t Need Sun Protection If You Have Dark Skin
The Real Truth: Sun damage can get to everyone in the end. It’s true, skin cancers like melanoma are less common for darker skin types because dark skin contains a higher level of protective melanin. However, nobody is 100 percent safe from skin cancers because they can attack any skin color. What’s more, they're harder to detect in black or brown skin which means they often go undetected and can become more life-threatening.
Take Action: The same advice applies here: use a broad-spectrum SPF 30 for every day use and SPF 50 for full-on days in the great outdoors. No matter your skin color. Also, be vigilant when it comes to checking for unusual moles or dark spots and get anything you're unsure of checked out immediately.
Myth #5: The Sun Can’t Damage Your Skin When Driving
The Real Truth: Oh, if only this one were true. However, glass does not block UVA radiation. We repeat, glass does not block UVA radiation. You’re pretty safe from burning UVB rays (unless you have the windows open, of course), but the sun’s nasty UVA rays can still penetrate through glass, causing all manner of cellular damage and premature aging like dark spots, fine lines and sagging skin. Tinted windows offer a small about of protection but you can’t legally tint your whole front window anyway, so that’s kind of a moot point.
Take Action: Again, protect, protect, protect with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s nothing less than SPF 30. The term ‘broad-spectrum’ means a product will protect your skin from UVA rays, not just UVB, and that’s super important here.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.