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Sunscreen myths debunked: What you need to know

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Mitos sobre el protector solar, realidades, hombre, verano, cuidado de la piel- Sunscreen, myths, facts, man, summer, skincare
Sunscreen myths debunked (Photo: Shiutterstock)
  • Common sunscreen myths.
  • Learn the truth about sun protection.
  • Avoid skin cancer this summer.

Debunking sunscreen myths is crucial for promoting proper skin protection practices.

Understanding when and how to use sunscreen effectively helps prevent skin cancer and premature aging while debunking misconceptions that might discourage its use.

By staying informed about the facts and latest research, you can make educated decisions about your sun protection.

Before you continue reading, we invite you to download the La Entrevista con Alonso Bañuelas podcast HERE.


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Sunscreen myths: It isn’t necessary on cloudy days

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One common myth is that sunscreen is only needed on sunny days.

However, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate through clouds, making sunscreen essential even when the sky is overcast.

UV radiation can reach the earth and cause skin damage regardless of the weather, so applying sunscreen should be part of your daily routine.

By consistently using sunscreen, you protect your skin from premature aging and reduce the risk of skin cancer, regardless of the apparent cloud cover.

Myth: Higher SPF provides complete protection

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Many people believe that a higher SPF guarantees complete protection against the sun.

While higher SPF sunscreens do offer more protection, no sunscreen can block 100% of UV rays. SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks about 98%, and SPF 100 blocks about 99%.

Additionally, no sunscreen can provide the same level of protection for everyone, as factors like skin type, activity level and UV exposure also play critical roles.

It’s important to reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating, regardless of the SPF, to ensure continuous protection.

Are all sunscreens the same?

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There’s a widespread notion that all sunscreens provide the same level of protection, regardless of their ingredients.

In reality, sunscreens can be chemical, absorbing UV rays, or physical, reflecting sunlight away from the skin, each suitable for different skin types and sensitivities.

Moreover, not all formulations provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

It’s crucial to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that fits your skin type and activities to ensure effective protection.

Sunscreen myths: One application lasts all day

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

A persistent myth is that applying sunscreen once in the morning suffices for all-day protection.

Sunscreen effectiveness diminishes over time, especially when you sweat or swim, even if the product is labeled as water-resistant.

To maintain optimal UV protection, it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours.

Additionally, using the right amount — a shot glass-sized amount for the body and a nickel-sized dollop for the face — ensures that you are fully protected throughout the day.

Sunscreen and vitamin D deficiency

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Some people avoid sunscreen under the misconception that it will lead to vitamin D deficiency.

While it’s true that the body needs sunlight to produce vitamin D, you don’t need to risk sun damage to meet your needs.

A sensible sun exposure of about 10-15 minutes a few times a week is usually sufficient for vitamin D synthesis.

For those concerned about vitamin D levels, alternatives include diet and supplements, which can provide necessary amounts without the risk of UV damage.

Sunscreen myths: It’s waterproof

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The terms «waterproof» and «sweatproof» are often misleadingly used to describe sunscreens, leading people to believe that reapplication is not necessary after swimming or sweating.

However, the FDA has banned these terms because no sunscreens are completely waterproof or sweatproof.

Instead, they may be labeled as water-resistant, indicating that they provide protection for either 40 or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.

Always check the label and reapply as directed to maintain protection.

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