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Sun protection is top of everyone’s mind at this time of year. Whether you want to know which ones are the best sunscreens for daily use or want your questions about sunblocks to be answered by skincare professionals, we have got all covered.
If you care about your skin, you are probably well aware of the need for protection from the sun. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen protection every day and reapply diligently.
Some people who take care of their skin ardently may buy into common myths and get things wrong which leaves them exposed to sun damage, premature aging. Overexposure to the sun also increases the risk of skin cancer.
We talked to various dermatologists about several misconceptions about sunscreen. Here is a crux of those talks.
We don’t need sunscreen if you don’t spend most of the day indoors
Not true! Even if you spend most part of your day indoors, you still need to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of your body, especially sit by a window in your office or home.
There are two types of ultraviolet rays coming from the sun; ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B. Both of these rays are equally damaging for your skin and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Window glass only blocks UVB and lets UVA penetrate through. Studies have shown that overexposure to UVA rays through windows can increase skin ageing and risk of cancer.
Using sunscreen daily is a healthy habit. If anything, you will be protected if end up going out.
Is it good if it doesn’t burn? Does base tan prevent sunburn?
First off, there is no such thing as a “healthy tan” or a safe “base tan.”
Ultraviolet radiations are a carcinogen and chronic exposure to them significantly increases the chances of developing skin cancer.
Tanning is caused by permanent DNA damage to the skin, just like a sunburn. The immune system sends repair enzymes to the area damaged by sun. They build up a wall of darker pigment to prevent more sunburn. However, this repair is never perfect and the damage done to the skin causes mutations in the skin cells.
In addition to the damage, they age the skin prematurely and can result in skin cancer.
Does a higher Sun-Protection-Factor mean it provides more protection from the sun?
Yes, it would be true if we use sunscreen as directed, which is, for some reasons, very hard to do. Sun-protection-factor is a measure of the product’s ability to prevent ultraviolet B rays from damaging the skin.
If it takes 25 minutes for your exposed skin to get burned under the sun, using an SPF 15 sunblock will prevent it from burning 15 times longer.
SPF has been tested in the laboratories under ideal conditions and the way most people apply sunscreen doesn’t have any effect. Most of the people don’t apply sunscreen lavishly enough or in an even layer. Due to these reasons, the protection they get from the sunscreen is much lower than as labelled.
Sunscreens with SPF of more than 50 offers a more valuable safety margin. These sunscreens are a perfect choices for people with sensitive skins, those who want a little extra protection, people with a certain skin condition, or people with elevated risk for skin cancer.
No matter which level of SPF your sunscreen has, you should reapply it at least every two hours.
Does sunscreen prevent the body from getting necessary vitamin D?
No. it has been proven through recent research that sunscreens do not prevent the production of vitamin D in the body. No matter how high the SPF level of your sunscreen is, or how much you apply, some of the UV rays still manage to reach your skin.
Vitamin D is essential for us as it improves a healthy immune system, promotes bone growth, and it is very effective for staving off certain diseases such as osteoporosis.
Radiations coming from the sun are one of the sources of vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from certain foods and supplements. Instead of exposing yourself to harmful UV rays, it is better that you get this vitamin through diet and supplements.
Some of the good sources of vitamin D are milk and fatty fish. Foods such as beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese contain small amount of vitamin D as well. You can consult your physician about supplements to make sure you receive enough vitamin D.
Are some of the ingredients used in sunscreens harmful?
All the ingredients used in sunscreens are approved by the FDA. However, the most questionable ingredient in the sunscreen is oxybenzone. There is no evidence about oxybenzone being harmful to humans.
There are two types of active ingredients used in a sunscreen: chemical and natural. Chemical ingredients include chemicals like avobenzone and oxybenzone along with various others. They absorb UV rays and prevent them to penetrate into the skin. The other kind of ingredients is naturally occurring inorganic ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They stay on the surface of the skin and deflect ultraviolet rays.
Absorption does not necessarily mean toxicity. There should be more research in this area. If you are concerned about sunscreen absorption, you can choose physical sunscreens. Also, women may want to opt for mineral sunscreens during pregnancy and breastfeeding out of caution.
It is advised that you keep using sun protection. There are substantial proofs that UV exposure can damage your skin and cause cancer and applying sunscreen reduces the risk.