It is summer now and you can’t wait to get out in the sun. Or you live somewhere in the tropical climate and live in fear of pigmentation? If you were just like me and have problems finding the right sunscreen (there are so many choices, I know!), here are 5 sunscreen myths we have debunked which will help you get smarter when you purchase your next sunscreen. Tip: It is not always about buying the most expensive ones!
Myth 1. Physical sunscreens clog up your pores and cause acne
For those who don’t know, physical sunscreens are also known as mineral sunscreens, because they contain mineral ingredients titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These work not by being absorbed into the skin (i.e. chemical sunscreens do that), but by forming a barrier on top of skin and deflecting damaging UV rays away from the skin. Contrary to popular belief, physical blockers are less likely to clog up skin and cause acne – silicones and mineral oils do. These tend to be found in chemical sunscreens instead, which gives the smooth texture when the sunscreen is applied. So those with acne prone skin, a mineral sunscreen is your better bet!
Myth 2. The higher the SPF, the better
SPF measures the level of protection against UVB rays – which are responsible for sunburns. A minimum of SPF 30 is recommended – this filters out 97% of UVB rays. SPF 50 filters out just 1% more, and SPF100 filters out 99%. So you can see that the difference in protection beyond SPF30 is not a whole lot more. More importantly, the SPF rating on a sunscreen does not indicate protection against UVA rays. UVA rays are responsible for ageing. So you should be looking for a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and has “broad spectrum” coverage as well.
Some experts believe that applying a sunscreen with very high SPF has the unintended effect of making people reapply sunscreen less often or stay out in the sun for far too long. No matter how how the SPF, sunscreens need to be reapplied every 2 to 3 hours because they get deactivated by the sun.
Myth 3. Sunscreens all work at their advertised SPF
I hate to disappoint, but a study showed that up to 40% of sunscreens tested in 2016 fell short of their labeled SPF. Most sunscreens that actually lived up to their claims were actually the regular inexpensive ones! And the fact is no one really likes to apply sunscreen, but did you also know that a regular teaspoonful of sunscreen is required for the face to achieve the advertised SPF (if the sunscreen is legit and lives up to its advertised SPF)? Sunscreens can also be rubbed or washed off unintentionally. Perhaps the new wash-on sunscreen is our new hope.
Myth 4. Chemical sunscreens work well for pigmentation problem
Heat-sensitive skin should use physical sunscreens rather than chemical ones. The latter works by creating a chemical reaction and absorbing and changing UV rays into heat. That heat is then released from the skin. You can see how that can be a problem for people with redness or heat sensitive skin conditions such as melasma. Instead, opt for a physical sunscreen which deflects UV rays and heat from the skin.
Myth 5. Sunscreen in makeup work as well as regular sunscreens.
Ask any dermatologist and they will tell you that you need a regular sunscreen beneath your makeup. Or you will need to apply about 5 to 14 times more makeup than you normally do to achieve the advertised protection.
And, sunscreen in makeup can be chemical or physical. The ones in primers tend to be chemical, while the ones in powders can be physical.