The sun comes out and the spirits rise higher. But the same sun that boosts our mood is also the culprit for skin cancer.
Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, will affect more than 100,000 people in the United States in 2020 and nearly 7,000 Americans will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.
Fortunately, we have sunscreen to protect us. But can some sunscreens be as dangerous as the sun? Food and Drug Administration data shows chemicals in sunscreens are absorbed into the human body at levels high enough to raise concerns about potentially toxic effects, while websites like Goop are now touting their listings. “Non-toxic sunscreens”.
With that in mind, HuffPost spoke with experts to clear up some of the most common myths and help you understand the importance of sunscreen.
How does sunscreen work
A broad spectrum sunscreen prevents the sun’s rays from entering and damaging your skin, especially UltraViolet A and B rays, more commonly known as UVA and UVB rays. UVA is what causes aging (photoaging) and UVB causes burns. UVA rays can cause genetic damage to cells and penetrate deeper than UVB rays.
There are two basic types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Simply put, chemical sunscreens are those that contain chemicals. We’re talking about things like octylcrylene, avobenzone, and octinoxate. Physical sunscreens use natural agents like zinc and titanium oxide.
Myth # 1: SPF protection from foundation or face cream is enough
Unfortunately, for many people, this is not true.
Dermatologist Jessica Weiser said, “In general, makeup contains an SPF 15-25 and is not applied in sufficient amount to provide even the amount of sun protection advertised on the bottle. For proper sun protection, a standalone sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA / UVB coverage and SPF 30 or higher should be applied under makeup. “
Yannis Alexandrides, a plastic surgeon who founded a line of skin care products, added that the only way makeup could provide enough protection would be to layer so much that it would be impossible to look presentable. “You need about eight times the normal amount of foundation to get the right sun protection, which is neither realistic nor good for your skin,” he says.
Myth # 2: You don’t need sunscreen in winter
Another common myth is that you should only wear sunscreen when the weather is hot and the sun is on full force. But UV rays are present at all times of the day and it is important to wear sunscreen all year round: “The only time the skin is not exposed to UV is after sunset and before sunrise when it’s dark outside, ”Weiser said.
Michelle Wong, chemist and content creator at Lab Muffin, further explains, “Although there is less UV [in colder months], your skin may still be sensitive to UV rays, especially if you have very pale skin or a family history of skin cancer, ”she told HuffPost.
Dennis Gross, dermatologist with a background in cancer research, adds that UV rays penetrate clouds and windows. It is therefore essential to wear sunscreen 365 days a year, both indoors and outdoors. Plus, the damage from the sun is cumulative, so even if you don’t see the damage now, you will eventually.
“Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the harsh effects of the sun will still reach your skin,” said Alexandrides, adding: “It’s important to remember that white snow is a great reflector and the sun’s rays are even harsher. at altitude, so it is also essential to apply an FPS with a factor of 50 when skiing. “
Myth # 3: Apply the same amount of sunscreen as your regular face cream
How much you apply is one of the most important factors in using sunscreen, and unfortunately most people don’t apply enough.
Depending on national regulations, you can read different explanations on the amount to apply. The variation is based on the rates of skin cancer in those countries, as well as the regulations for the manufacture of sunscreens. The United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, for example, all describe their regulations differently.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the recommended dose for sunscreen is 1 ounce (or 2 tablespoons) for the entire body; the National Health Service in the UK recommends 2 teaspoons for the head, face and arms; and the Cancer Council in Australia recommends 1 teaspoon for each arm, leg, front of the body, back of the body, and face, which equates to a total of about 7 teaspoons for whole body application.
Myth # 4: You only need to apply once in the morning
Have you ever noticed that sunscreen labels say to reapply after two hours, or after exposure to water or sweating? Weiser explains that while the sunscreen lasts two hours on dry skin, it only lasts 40 to 80 minutes on wet skin. Every day that you spend time outdoors, you should reapply at least every two hours.
Think of your sunscreen as a film on your face, Wong said. “This film slowly breaks down over the course of the day as you sweat, produce oils, etc., just like foundation swells during the day.”
Myth # 5: You can mix sunscreen with your face cream or foundation
That’s a risk for many reasons: You’re probably not applying enough sunscreen to get adequate protection, and you’re potentially diluting the active ingredients and reducing its effectiveness, Weiser said. Instead, she recommends layering of each product properly, apply your sunscreen last and, when dry, add your foundation.
Gross said physical sunscreens can be mixed with foundation to diminish any ashy appearance, but it’s not ideal to do so. “Mixing sunscreen with face cream or foundation without SPF can lower the SPF factor,” he said.
Myth # 6: Sun protection is cumulative, so SPF 20 and SPF 30 provide the protection of SPF 50
That’s somewhat true, but in reality it’s probably best to apply two coats of the same product, Wong advised. This would only work cumulatively if the two coats were applied evenly, but it is impossible to do this without wiping off some of the first coat.
“The SPF numbers are not cumulative because each product blocks a certain percentage of UVB,” Weiser said. “Applying SPF 20 followed by SPF 30 would give the same protection as applying SPF 30 alone.”
Myth # 7: If You Don’t Burn Without Using SPF, You’re Okay
Tanning is basically the death of your cells – that’s why your skin turns brown or red. It doesn’t sound too healthy now, does it?
“There is no such thing as a safe tan,” Weiser said. “Any tan is a sign of UV damage to skin cells.”
“A tan is potential damage to your skin and your body reacts to sun damage,” said dermatologist Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper). “Your skin can suffer damage from the sun that you can’t see, leading to early signs of aging, hyperpigmentation and potentially skin cancer. This is the dark side of tanning!
Myth # 8: a low SPF is enough
It depends on how sensitive your skin is to the sun and how much UV you’re exposed to, Wong said.
Gross has an easy test: if your skin turns pink in the sun with the current SPF you’re using, you need to increase your SPF factor. “I recommend SPF 30 to be sure. The SPF 30 is sufficient to protect collagen and keep the skin looking younger, in addition to protecting it against skin cancer, ”he said.
# 9: sunscreen can cause cancer
This cannot yet be called a silent myth, as more studies need to be done. But here’s what we know now: At this point, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to suggest that sunscreen can cause cancer. A recent study found that oxybenzone, a common ingredient in chemical sunscreens, stays in people’s bloodstream for 21 days, but this has not been directly linked to cancer.
David Strauss, head of the Applied Regulatory Science Division at the FDA, recently said that “Just because the active ingredient in a sunscreen, or some other type of ingredient, is absorbed, does not mean that ‘he is dangerous”.
But if you want to play it safe, Gross recommends avoiding the ingredient oxybenzone. But keep wearing sunscreen!
Put simply, “it’s much more likely that you will get skin cancer without sunscreen than it is to get cancer while wearing sunscreen,” Lee said.
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