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5 Things Even Smart People Get Wrong About Sunscreen

Sun damage is one of the leading causes of premature aging. Issues such as uneven skin tone and texture, freckles, wrinkles, melasma, and even skin cancer are all risks associated with excessive exposure to harmful UV rays. We all know sunscreen can protect us from these problems, but even the smartest folks believe some of the most persistent – and pervasive – misconceptions about sunblock. Today, we’re going to put on our myth-busting hats to debunk the top five things people get wrong about sunscreen.

1. You Don’t Always Need Sunscreen When You Go Outside

Many people still think it’s only necessary to put on sunscreen before they do an outdoor activity that shows a lot of skin, such as when they go swimming. However, UV rays can do damage regardless of how much of your skin you choose to expose.

Some people also skip the sunscreen on overcast days because they think the cloud cover will protect them from the sun. The reality is that UV rays can and will penetrate the clouds to reach you, even on a gloomy fall or winter day.

Anytime you go outside, apply sunscreen to any areas that will be exposed to sunlight, especially your face, neck, chest, and hands. Don’t forget about the tips of your ears, as well. If you frequently do outdoor hobbies such as gardening, or if you like to exercise outside, you should also invest in a hat that will provide an extra layer of shade for your face.

2. People With Dark Skin Don’t Need to Worry About Sunscreen

While melanin can provide some protection against sunburns, people with darker skin tones still need to worry about the long-term effects of sun exposure, including wrinkles and skin cancer. For safety’s sake, everyone who plans to spend time outside needs to use sunblock, regardless of the season.

3. Tanning Beds Provide a Protective “Base Tan”

Perhaps the most dangerous misconception about sunscreen is that people need less of it if they have already spent time in a tanning booth. Tanning beds use high-intensity UVA light to darken the skin quickly, and the temporary tan they create does not keep your skin safe from sun exposure and sunburns caused by UVB light. The truth of the matter is that there is no safe or healthy way to tan. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, even one indoor tanning session can increase your risk of developing skin cancer by 75%.

4. One Application of Sunscreen Keeps You Safe Throughout the Day

People often think they can stay out in the sun all day with one application of a high-SPF sunblock. However, even waterproof sunscreen wears off eventually, especially if you’re swimming or sweating. Be sure to reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours. A general rule of thumb is to apply at least a teaspoon to your face, and one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) to the rest of your body. It’s smart to keep a coverup within arm’s reach, too.

5. Makeup With SPF Is Enough to Protect Your Face

Some makeup brands now come with built-in SPF, which is all for the good. However, if you use these kinds of cosmetics, you still need to apply sunscreen. While the makeup provides an additional layer of protection, it isn’t enough to prevent premature aging, sun damage, and melanoma on its own.

Northern Virginia’s Skin Care Experts

At the Virginia Center for Plastic Surgery, we care about keeping your skin young and healthy-looking for longer. We are proud to offer our proprietary VCPS Neos line of skin care products to help improve the quality of your skin. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation to get your personalized recommended skin care regimen.