Summer dress season is in full swing, and with beach breaks on the horizon comes the task of selecting the right sunscreen. What SPF is necessary? And are chemical ingredients really dangerous? There are lots of rumours about sunscreen but it’s important to separate fact from fiction.
Myth 1: You have to wear SPF50 or higher
SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, is a measure of how long you can spend in the sun before burning. Wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 allows you to be outside 30 times longer without getting a sunburn. That means that someone who burns in 20 minutes without protection would be able to spend 600 minutes, or 10 hours, in the sun before turning red.
If you put on sunscreen perfectly—applying a generous layer to all exposed areas of the face & body—SPF 30 should be adequate. Try ELEMIS Dynamic Resurfacing Day Cream SPF 30.
Myth 2: Sunscreen is waterproof
There is no sunscreen that is truly waterproof. The best you can get is water-resistant for up to two hours, after which it needs to be reapplied. Make sure you check how long your sunscreen holds up in the water and towel off before thoroughly reapplying it. It’s also important to let it ‘set’ for 15 minutes so it doesn’t wash off when you get back into the water.
Myth 3: Sunscreen is all you need to do to protect yourself from the sun
Lathering up with sunscreen is not a licence to lie by the pool all weekend. Spending too much time in the sun, with or without sunscreen, can damage the skin, leading to premature ageing and skin cancer. Dermatologists recommend wearing sunglasses, a hat and protective clothing, as well as seeking shade and minimising outdoor time during the intense midday hours of 11am to 3pm.
It’s important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA radiation. All sunscreens filter the UVB rays (think B for burn), but not all sunscreens are good at protecting against UVA rays (A for ageing). Try Nimue SPF 40, a lightweight, moisturising sunscreen that provides high broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and assists to reduce and prevent visible signs of photo ageing.
We also know infrared light, which very few sunscreens can screen for, can also damage the skin. Try Skin Affair’s Organic Daily SPF15 which contains natural blue light blockers.
Get a free Skin Affair Organic SPF 15 with all orders over R750 until 20 October.
Myth 4: The chemicals in sunscreens are harmful to humans
Concern has been growing about the safety of the chemicals in sunscreens, leading to the proliferation of natural products. Chemicals can cause allergic reactions and some studies show they interact with human sex and thyroid hormones, though no risk to humans has been proven. If you’re still worried about the potential toxicity, you can opt for mineral sunscreens, which are just as effective and are often labelled as natural. Try Environ’s RAD mineral sunscreen SPF15 which is formulated with Shea Butter, the Environ RAD Shield Mineral Sunscreen SPF 15 is also very moisturising without being sticky or leaving a white cast. It also contains Vitamin E to further enhance moisture as well as provide antioxidant benefits, as well as tomato fruit extract, which absorbs UV light.
Myth 5: You don’t need to wear sunscreen when it’s cloudy or you’re in the shade
Harmful ultraviolet rays can pass through clouds, so it’s important to wear sunscreen daily regardless of the forecast. While UVB rays get filtered on cloudy days, UVA rays don’t vary as much. Even on a cloudy day, we’re still getting at least 80 percent of the harmful rays. When the UV index is three or higher, sunscreen is needed. And while seeking shade is smart, it can’t completely protect you from sunlight, which scatters and reflects. Try QMS ACTIVE GLOW SPF 15 Tinted Day Cream Enriched with vitamins this day cream is ideal for the active lifestyle; its UV filters protect against premature light-induced skin ageing while its clever tint is designed to work with every tone and its moisturising ingredients firm and smooth the skin.