As much as we know about the science of sunscreen, and how necessary it is to protect our skin, it is still shrouded in misunderstanding. A legend is that you do not have to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day (plot twist: You do.) Another belief is that a solid tan may be sufficient to prevent sunburn when in reality you still have to cut on SPF. But possibly the greatest sunscreen myth you’ve ever heard? It’s pointless to wear something over SPF 30.
Spoiler alarm: This is quite False. SPF 30 has its benefits, but it is certainly not end-all-be-all of sun protection. The truth is that the higher your SPF is – and the more correctly you use it – the more protected you become. Going forward, derms deriving such skin care teachings and explaining what SPF is actually do how to best use it and what sunscreens to buy to protect the oh-so precious skin.
Let’s start here: How does SPF actually work?
Stacy Chimento, MD, a Miami-based board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology, explains that SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, is not necessarily a metric strength. Instead, it measures how much time you can spend in the sun without getting burned while wearing sunscreen as opposed to if you had no SPF on at all.
“SPF 30 allows a person technically to spend 30 times more time in the sun than if they did not use sunscreen,” says Dr. Chimento. “However, this requires that a person apply sunscreen properly with the right amount on all areas of the body and recycle. Higher SPFs, such as 50+, block more UV rays from hitting the skin than SPF 30 and provide a significant amount more protection – especially if a person tends not to use enough sunscreen. “
Here is an example: Say, on average, it takes you 10 minutes to burn when exposed to the sun’s rays without any protection whatsoever. If you use the suggested amount of SPF 30, you have about 300 minutes of protection until you start burning. Similarly, if you were to have an SPF 50, it would take about 500 minutes to start feeling crispy. Makes sense?
So no. That is it does not It is pointless to go over SPF 30. If you use it correctly and apply it again regularly, a sunscreen with SPF 40+ can keep you safer for longer periods.
Video: Understanding Sunscreen So You Actually Use It All Year Round (Buzz60)
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Understood. But how do I know if I’m skimming the right way?
As Dr. Chimento mentioned, in order to reap the maximum benefits of an SPF, it must be used properly. This means that you spread the proposed amount – approx. an ounce or enough to fill a shot glass – evenly all over your body with uniform recycling approx. every other hour.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Michele Green, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, explains that natural human error and forgetfulness can do more harm than good – even if we foam up.
“In fact, most patients do not use enough sunscreen, [they] “Stay out in the sun all day, and jump for applications, even after swimming, and forget about reusing sunscreen,” says Dr. Green. This human error creates more sun damage and you simply do not get the SPF number that you have in mind. “
Worried about your sunscreen habits? Do not be. Just follow these tips from Dr. Chimento and Dr. Green.
1. Join SPF: Do not believe the myth. If you often forget to recycle sunscreen, using a higher SPF can be helpful. “A higher amount of sunscreen is beneficial in giving you better coverage and protection against wrinkles and sun damage,” says Dr. Green. “It is also more important to use a higher amount of SPF when you are at risk for skin cancer. Patients with darker skin tones also need higher SPF as they are more likely to develop hyperpigmentation, sun spots and melasma.”
2. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen: Your sunscreen can protect you from two types of UV rays: UVA, which can lead to the formation of skin cancer, and UVB, which causes sunburn. However, not all sunscreens protect against both. In fact, most chemical sunscreens only protect against UVB, which puts the skin at serious risk and exposes it to some sketchy chemicals. Instead, choose a mineral sunscreen that blocks both types of UV. “Mineral sunscreen reflects the sun and contains ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which act as a physical blocker for the skin and are preferable to most chemical sunblocks,” says Dr. Green.
3. Remember to apply again: Both Dr. Chimento and Dr. Green agrees that the very best thing you can do is recycle regularly. “No sunscreen protects the skin 100 percent from UV rays, and sunscreen also wears out after a few hours,” says Dr. Chimento. “The best way to ensure you reduce your chances of sunburn and possible skin cancer is to cover your entire body with sunscreen and reapply at least every two hours.”
So that solves it – after all, SPF 30 is not the magic number. And no matter what number of SPF you decide to go with, the key is about proper, consistent application.
Ready to get over the SPF 30 myth and pick up with a higher SPF? Below are derm-approved suggestions to bring to the beach this summer.
Protect your skin with these sunscreens high in SPF
Avène Solaire UV Mineral Multi-Defense Sunscreen – $ 32.00
Remember: It is important to also choose a sunscreen that blocks harmful UVA and UVB rays – most mineral sunscreens do just that.
Dr.Green’s go-to is Avène Solaire UV Mineral Multi-Defense Sunscreen, which offers complete coverage without the sticky, calcareous residue that some mineral sunscreens leave behind. “It is specifically formulated for patients with sensitive skin and is available in two types: white and tinted for my patients with type 3 or darker skin types.”
Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 – $ 35.00
Dr. Chimento is a big fan of Skinceuticals, which produces several broad-spectrum sunscreens that are also light and paraben-free. She recommends checking out Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, which “combines 100 percent mineral filters with translucent color balls for effective broad-spectrum UVA / UVB protection and a smooth, radiant finish.”
Eir NYC Surf Mud Pro – $ 30.00
Protect that money developer with this easy-to-use zinc oxide sunscreen that is SPF 50. If you are eager for a sustainable solution, this is the sunscreen for you. Each stick comes in a plastic-free package that is 100 percent compostable and is made from natural, organic ingredients that are tear-friendly, so you do not have to worry about leftovers sweating after a swim.
EleVen by Venus Williams Unsurpassed Sun Serum SPF 35 – $ 50.00
As Dr. Green mentioned, a higher SPF can help protect black and brown skin from hyperpigmentation, sun spots and melasma.
This game-changing serum was designed by badass Venus Williams himself as a blend of skin care and sun protection for all skin tones. Despite containing 25 percent zinc oxide, the silky serum blends smoothly on the skin without leaving any white, chalky residue on black and brown skin. Use it as the final step in your daily skincare routine for a little extra TLC from the sun’s rays.
Riverchase Skin Solutions Sheer Physical Spray SPF 50 – $ 19.00
If you are a fan of spray sunscreen, Dr. recommends Chimento Riverchase Skin Solutions Sheer Physical Spray. This purely physical sunscreen sprays evenly, is oil free, and is waterproof for up to 40 minutes. Talk about some serious benefits.
Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50 – $ 32.00
This is a W + G favorite. Supergoop! products work well and this broad spectrum sunscreen is no different. It smells delicious and is super light, leaving the skin hydrated and dewy. But the best part is, all Supergoop! the products are pure, vegan and fox friendly, making it another great eco-friendly option.
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