What you really need to know about using sunscreen

September 18, 2019


What is the one thing you are always told to do for your health and skin? It’s to wear sunscreen, right? (the same goes for your kids too).

And while I know I need to apply sunscreen daily, I’m often in the dark (ha ha) about how often to re-apply, and what sunscreen to use.

Research tells me though that one should use a sunscreen with an SPF50+ every day, like Cetaphil Sun SPF 50+ Lotion . This is necessary even when it’s overcast but you’re still outdoors because your skin is still exposed to UV rays.

Also look for something that protects against UVA as unprotected exposure to UVA rays can lead to skin ageing, wrinkles, and a suppressed immune system.

Experts also say that one should re-apply sunscreen at least every two hours, or after sweating or swimming, which means that one application in the morning isn’t enough.

There’s still stuff that some people might not know, so I’ve got some research below, with some myths busted, for better understanding, especially since it’s getting hotter and we’ve hit outdoors more.

Myth 1: Sunscreen prevents the body from absorbing vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for health, and the body makes it easily through exposure to UV rays. Sunscreen, however, blocks UV rays, but sunlight can penetrate clothing, and sometimes sunscreen is forgotten, which means there is still exposure to vitamin D.

Scientists and dermatologists suggest that just 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure per day can create the proper amount of vitamin D in the body.

Myth 2: People with dark skin do not need sunscreen

People with dark skin are still at risk of sunburn and skin damage. Taking precautions, such as wearing sunscreen, is always recommended regardless of skin color.

Some people believe that those with more melanin in their skin do not need to use sunscreen. This is because melanin acts to diffuse UVB rays and may protect against sunburns, to some extent.

While people with darker skin are more protected from the sun, they should still use a full spectrum sunscreen. UVA damage is not blocked by melanin in the same way and can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkles.

Melanin will also not protect the skin from extreme sun exposure, such as spending long hours in the sun unprotected. People with darker skin are also not protected against skin cancer.

One study noted that skin cancer survival rates were lowest in people with darker skin, including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. These results indicated a need for better screening and awareness of the risk of skin cancer.

Myth 3: Tanning beds provide a protective base tan

Some people believe that they should use tanning beds to get a quick tan before summer comes, or before exposing themselves to a lot of sun, such as before a holiday.

Tanning beds use high concentrations of UVA light to darken the skin quickly, whereas the sun includes both UVA and UVB light.

Exposing the body to high levels of UVA light from a tanning bed creates a temporary tan that will do very little to protect the skin from sun exposure and sunburns caused by UVB light.

Myth 4: Makeup is enough to protect the face

While makeup can provide a little protection from the sun, it is not much and is not a replacement for a good sunscreen.

Makeup should be seen as an additional layer of protection, and not the only layer of protection.

Myth 5: Sunscreen works better than covering up

It can be tempting to think that a layer of sunscreen makes the body invincible to the sun. Many people who wear sunscreen believe this allows them to stay protected throughout the day, even if much of the skin is exposed.

The truth is, covering up the skin is much better protection than sunscreen. A long-brimmed hat and clothing will protect the skin better than any sunscreen.

Myth 6: You cannot tan while wearing sunscreen

Sunscreen will protect the skin from most light rays, but some will still reach the skin, which means it’s still possible to get a tan while wearing sunscreen. This means it is still possible to get a tan while wearing sunscreen.

Myth 7: Sunscreen is waterproof

Sunscreen labelled as water-resistant or sweat-resistant, or marketed as sunscreen for sports, may appear to be waterproof, however, no sunscreen product can be 100 percent waterproof.

People must always reapply water-resistant sunscreens after water exposure. Allow the sunscreen to settle on the skin for at least 10 to 15 minutes before going in the water.

Myth 8: Sunscreen never expires

Contrary to popular belief, sunscreen naturally expires. The active ingredients can break down over time, and using expired sunblock may leave the skin unprotected. Watch the expiry dates on your sunscreen!

  Why Cetaphil sunscreen

Cetaphil Sun SPF50+ Very High Protection Lotion 200ml contains UV filters to protect the skin from sun damage. Its non-greasy formulation can be easily applied to the face and body and won’t block pores. It’s water-resistant in freshwater and salt water, and sweat-resistant. It’s also great for sensitive skin and kids’ skin, and won’t block pores.

It’s available from Clicks, Dis-Chem and other leading pharmacies nationwide from around R240. from around R240.

Via Medical News Today

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