Myth #1: A base tan protects your skin.
Fact: No way! Your skin only tans when it’s injured by UV rays from the sun, and you want to avoid this kind of injury at all costs. A tan will provide an SPF of about 4, but with it comes increased risk for burns, premature aging and skin cancer, which isn’t a good tradeoff. In fact, you get more protection by throwing on a white T-shirt (SPF 7), but we always, always recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher to really protect your skin in the sun.
Myth #2: You only need sunscreen at the beach.
Fact: Unless you live in a bunker, you’re exposed to the sun every day of your life. Even if you don’t burn, your skin is accumulating damage over time that leads to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, sagging skin and other signs of premature aging. So while it’s a good idea to apply (and reapply) your sunscreen when you spend a day at the beach or on the slopes, you need it on the other days, too.
Myth #3: The damage is already done.
Fact: We hear this one a lot: you get 80 percent of your skin damage by the time you’re 18, so you’re pretty much beyond help. This couldn’t be further from the truth. According to more recent information, this percentage is more like 25 percent, so even if you’ve never used sunscreen before, it’s smart to add it to your routine now to prevent future damage.
Myth #4: You need sun to get enough vitamin D.
Fact: Some people use this myth to feed their tanning habit, but the truth is that your skin only needs about 15 minutes of daily sun exposure to produce all the vitamin D it can handle. You don’t need to sunbathe (or worse, hit the tanning bed!) for vitamin D’s sake, plus you can get most of what you need from your diet. It’s much better to avoid the sun when you can and use hats, long sleeves and lots of sunscreen when you’re outside.
Myth #5: Sunscreen is bad for you.
Fact: While there have been rumors about sunscreens with chemical ingredients, there is no clinical evidence that any chemical sunscreen ingredients are harmful when applied as directed. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation agree that the benefits of these sunscreens far outweigh any potential downsides. If you’re still concerned about chemical sunscreens, many mineral sunscreens work without chemicals to provide great sun protection benefits. One of our favorites is EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41, which protects skin with a blend of 9% zinc oxide and 7 % titanium dioxide.
What’s your favorite myth about sunscreen? Let us know in the comments below!