AND THE TRUTH YOU NEED TO KNOW
As told by a Dermatologist
MYTH #1: The Higher the SPF, the Higher the Protection
TRUTH: The better the active ingredients, the better the sunscreens.
Truth: SPF is so dangerously misleading, that the FDA legally ruled it to be misleading in 2015, and no longer allows sunscreens to be labeled any higher than SPF 50.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) represents a sunscreen’s ability to protect you from UVB (Burning) rays. These are the short-range UV rays responsible for burning.
SPF does not represent a sunscreen’s ability to protect you from UVA (aging) rays, the long range rays the penetrate deep within the skin’s surface, chopping up collagen and causing wrinkles and lasting damage.
TRUTH about SPF: Any SPF above 50 is misleading.
SPF 50 offers maximum protection.
SPF follows a curve as shown below:
SPF 15 protects against 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 protects against 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 protects against 98.5% of UVB rays
What about UVA?
UVA rays are responsible for skin aging, lasting damage, and skin cancer.
To ensure your sunscreen protects against UVA rays, make sure you choose a broad spectrum sunscreen.
So, what is the best way to determine the strength of a sunscreen?
Check the back, and check the active ingredients!
MYTH #2: Active Ingredients Don’t Matter
TRUTH: The biggest determinant of a sunscreen’s strength is its active ingredients.
There are two types of active ingredients: mineral (physical) filters and chemical filters.
There are only two mineral filters: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They are the #1 and #2 rated sunscreen filters in the world.
Mineral (physical) filters reflect the full spectrum of UV light, and as long as they’re on your skin, they will protect you from the full range of UVA (aging) rays and UVB (burning rays).
They are the safest for your skin and for your environment, and are insoluble in water. They pose no known health hazards.
Chemical filters, on the other hand are soluble filters that absorb a small range of UV light, therefore requiring many chemical filters to be combined to reach an adequate range of UV light.
Chemical filters work by absorbing a limited range of UV light and converting it to heat energy via a chemical reaction.
Many chemical filters, however, are highly reactive and can be dangerous for the skin and their negative effects exacerbated in sunlight.
Chemical filters deactivate far sooner when exposed to direct heat and sunlight. Therefore, they will lose their efficacy when exposed to excessive heat, which often happens when one is using sunscreen.
Furthermore, many chemical filters are dangerous for the skin and the environment.
Oxybenzone and octinoxate have been banned in Hawaii and have been proven for over a decade to bleach and kill coral – a central fixture of our ecosystem. Yet, one or both of these highly toxic ingredients are found in over 80% of our sunscreens today. We need to be more aware as consumers, and decide to ban these ingredients, because the drug companies won’t.
Most chemical filters only absorb a small range of UVB (burning) rays, therefore don’t protect against the harmful UVA (aging) rays, which penetrate deep within the skin’s surface causing excessive skin aging by chopping collagen. UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer formation, causing deeper and longer-lasting damage then UVB rays,
Many low-SPF tanning lotions that protect from UVB rays using chemical filters are very misleading, because they allow you to stay in the sun longer, but still allow UVA rays that will cause lifelong damage in attempt to obtain a “safe tan.”
There is no such thing as a “safe tan.”
MYTH #3: Sunscreen Doesn’t Expire
TRUTH: Sunscreens usually expire in 2 years, though chemical sunscreens expire much faster.
Chemical Filters are highly sensitive and reactive, especially when exposed to high heat.
Check your sunscreens, and throw them away (recycle them) if they’re older than two years and are chemical sunscreens.
Mineral sunscreens are very stable and will last until the expiry date given.
Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, will degrade far sooner, and if exposed to high temperatures and sunlight, such as in your car or on the boat on a hot day, they will expire much sooner.
TIP: Check the back of your sunscreen.
Is your sunscreen expired?
Is it a chemical or mineral sunscreen?
Has it been exposed to high heat and light?
If your sunscreen is expired, throw it away.
If your sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen and has been exposed to heat and light, it is probably deactivated.
Make sure that your active ingredients are still active before you apply.
MYTH #4: Spray Sunscreens are as effective as creams and lotions
TRUTH: Spray sunscreens are the most dangerous sunscreens.
Why are they dangerous?
Spray sunscreens are almost always chemical sunscreens (easily inactivated).
Spray sunscreens are the most misleading, because of their frequent misapplication. Spray sunscreens must be applied very generously, evenly, and rubbed in to the skin completely in order to provide adequate protection. The biggest mistake people make with spray sunscreens is not rubbing it in.
Risk of inhalation: spray sunscreens should never be sprayed directly onto the face or near the eyes and mouth. Be aware of the direction of the wind to avoid inhalation.
To be safe, do not apply spray aerosol sunscreens on children (especially aged 6 and younger).
Risk of irritation: check the back of the sunscreen – many chemical filters are allergens and skin irritants. The only 2 UVA filters available in America: Avobenzone and Oxybenzone are toxic (Avobenzone reacts with chlorine and causes staining; oxybenzone has been proven for over a decade to bleach and kill coral)
MYTH #5: You don’t need sunscreen
Even if you have naturally dark skin and never burn and always tan, it still means the sun is damaging your skin. And you can still develop skin cancer and deep wrinkles someday. UVA light can be especially damaging and causes excessive skin aging and skin cancer.
TRUTH: Sunscreen isn’t enough to protect yourself.
The best protection from the sun is seeking shade and wearing sun protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UPF protective long sleeve clothing.
TIP: The tighter the weave and the darker the color, the better the UV protection.
TIP: Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed areas, especially the ears, lips, nose, and side of the neck.
Skin cancers on the ears and lips are very dangerous, because they can spread much quicker than from other areas.