Sun care is a serious matter. Just look at the stats: The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that there will be 81,300 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer this year, and 5,800 cases of the more fatal melanoma skin cancer (of which 970 cases will result in death). Prolonged exposure to the sun increases your risk to both forms of cancer, and also causes premature aging in the form of wrinkles, fine lines and skin discoloration.
To help you brush up on how to enjoy the sunshine
and protect your skin this summer, we asked with Anastasia Ivanova, LaRoche-Posay’s MySkinCheck Campaign Manager, to help us debunk the top eight most commonly held sun care myths.
MYTH #1: If you have a darker complexion, you don’t need to wear sunscreen.
FACT: While it may be true that those with fairer complexions are more susceptible to sun damage, those with darker complexions aren’t completely untouchable. “If you have a darker phototype, it just means that you can use a lower SPF, like 45 or 30,” says Ivanova. “Every individual must adapt their level of sun protection to their skin type and sun conditions. Most dermatologists recommend using products with a protection of SPF 30 or more, regardless of phototype.”
MYTH #2: The higher the SPF is, the better it is at protecting your skin.
FACT: Actually, this myth is partially true. As Ivanova explains, “It is true that the higher the SPF, the higher the UVB protection. However, after SPF60 there isn’t much difference in the level of protection. It’s a difference smaller than 1 percent.” She adds, “It’s a common misconception that the level of protection of a sunscreen is determined by the SPF. The SPF is only an indication of UVB protection. There are 2 types of UV rays: UVA and UVB.” When choosing sunscreen, Ivanova stresses the importance of selecting a sunscreen that is “broad spectrum,” meaning it’s able to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. She also suggests “[looking] for filters like Mexoryl, which is the UVA filter most recommended by dermatologists in Canada.”
MYTH #3: If your foundation has an SPF of 20, your face is adequately protected.
SPF in day creams and foundations provide what we can call ‘urban’ protection—for small exposures per day,” explains Ivanova. “Keep in mind that SPF is not an indication of UVA protection, but only UVB. In the summer months, when we spend more time outside, it’s important to wear a sunscreen on your face daily.” She recommends La Roche-Posay’s
Anthelios Ultra Fluid Lotion SPF 60 for daily use and broad-spectrum protection.
MYTH #4: If it’s cloudy outside, there’s no need to wear sunscreen.
FACT: Sunscreen should be worn even if the weather is dreary. “Even if UVB rays are filtered, clouds let through almost 80 percent of UVA rays. These rays are responsible for skin’s premature aging and sun-induced allergies, among other things. Even when sitting in the shade or under an umbrella, beware of UVB and UVA reflection on the ground. An umbrella reduces the intensity of the sun rays but doesn’t protect fully against the sun due to reflections.”
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MYTH #5: Sunscreen doesn’t expire.
FACT: Go ahead and throw out last summer’s bottle of sunscreen. Although sunscreens are usually labeled with an expiration date and have a shelf life of approximately two years, it’s important to buy a new bottle every summer to ensure that your skin is well-protected. As Ivanova explains, “Sunscreens are often used in extreme conditions—they’re exposed to heat, cold, bacteria (when left opened)—which destabilize the formula.”
MYTH #6: Applying sunscreen once a day is enough, especially if your sunscreen proclaims that it provides all-day protection.
FACT: It may seem evident but, as Ivanova explains “7 in 10 women do not know how to properly apply sunscreen lotion, and 4 in 10 women do not reapply. Regardless of activity or SPF, it is recommended that you reapply your sunscreen every two hours. The amount of sunscreen needed to cover the whole body is about the size of an egg, a golf ball, or a shot glass. Don’t forget the top of your head, ears, nape of the neck and your feet.”
MYTH #7: If you don’t tan, you won’t get the right amount of vitamin D.
FACT: First off, “tanning and vitamin D are not related,” explains Ivanova. “You can still get vitamin D while wearing sun protection, as sunscreen does not block out 100 percent of the sun’s rays. UV light is necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D, which is essential for fixing calcium within the bones. 15 minutes of exposure 3 times a week is enough to manufacture sufficient vitamin D. Even an overcast sky provides enough UV to ensure vitamin D synthesis.” Don’t forget that you can get vitamin D from your diet and other supplements.
MYTH #8: Waterproof and sweat proof sunscreens are effective.
FACT: This myth is in fact true however; the repeated application of water resistant and sweat resistant sunscreens is crucial. “Regardless of water resistance, sunscreen needs to be re-applied after swimming and sweating. The measure of water resistance is determined if the sunscreen retains its efficacy 45 minutes after swimming, therefore highlighting the importance of re-application. “ Ivanova recommends water resistant products like La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios SPF45 Spray, Anthelios SPF60 stick, Anthelios SPF60 Ultra-Fluid Lotion and Anthelios SPF45 kids.
To choose the best sunscreen, follow Ivanova’s simple sunscreen checklist. Your sunscreen should be broad spectrum, have a SPF of at least 30 and have a texture that suits your lifestyle. Most of all, it should be appropriate for your skin type. Visit La Roche-Posay’s MySkinCheck for even more vital information on sun care. And of course, wearing sunscreen isn’t the only way you should be protecting your skin. Get in the habit of wearing protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and avoiding the sun at its peak between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Once you’ve got your sun care routine down pat, you can happily (and safely) enjoy the summer sunshine!
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