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Sharp Health News

Shedding light on 5 sunscreen myths

April 18, 2016

Shedding light on 5 sunscreen myths

It's no secret that we all need to protect our skin from the sun. Whether you tan or burn easily, our body's natural reaction to sunlight shows us that too much unprotected exposure is unhealthy for our skin.

Overexposure to ultraviolet light can lead to sunburn and long-term health effects from wrinkles to cancer. Despite the health risks, not everyone uses sunscreen properly. There are also a lot of myths out there on when and how to use it. Learning the facts is important because properly using sunscreen is one of the best ways to decrease the risk of skin cancer and protect you from the aging effects of sun damage.

Sharp Rees-Stealy dermatologist Dr. Caroline Thornton, helps debunk five common myths about sun protection.

Do I need a sunscreen higher than SPF 30?
The SPF (sun protection factor) refers to how much longer it takes you to burn with the sunscreen than without it. If you have dark eyes, dark hair and tan easily, then you should do fine with an SPF 30. If you have light eyes, light hair, fair skin and burn easily, then a higher SPF sunscreen may allow you to spend more time outside before you will burn or otherwise damage your skin.

Is any sunscreen good sunscreen?
Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection to lower the risk of sunburn, sunspots, wrinkles and skin cancer.

Is the sunscreen in my makeup good enough?
Makeup does not provide enough coverage. The sunscreen in makeup is not usually the most broad-spectrum type available, and often isn't applied as thickly as required to reach an SPF level of 30. For maximum protection, it is a good idea to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen in addition to your makeup.

Is my sunscreen from last summer fine to use?
It might be; check the expiration date. Be sure to keep sunscreen in a cool area to maintain effectiveness over time.

Do I need to wear sunscreen indoors?
If you naturally turn red or brown easily in the sun, or if you are extra sensitive due to a medication side effect, it is best to put sunscreen on each day while you are inside. Even if we don't plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, we can get significant sun exposure through windows and while running errands.

Newer sunscreens are being developed that will allow our skin to make vitamin D while still protecting against the harmful rays. For now, it's a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement if you are protecting yourself well from the sun.

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