Sunscreen is essential for protecting your skin against the harmful rays of the sun that often lead to sunburn, premature aging, and, in the worst cases, skin cancer. It can be easy to become confused and susceptible to misinformation when there are what seems like an endless amount of sunscreens on the market. We want you to make educated decisions about the products you put on your body’s largest organ, so we’re going to debunk common skincare myths, explain the difference between mineral, chemical, and broad-spectrum sunscreens.
Common Sunscreen Myths Debunked
- Myth: Higher SPF equals a higher level of protection. Fact: SPF (Sun Protection Factor) measures protection against UVB rays, which are the main culprit behind sunburn. The difference between a higher or lower SPF value may offer a miniscule amount of extra protection, but it doesn’t make a monumental difference when it comes to skin protection. SPF 30 blocks around 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks around 98%. What truly makes a difference in how well your skin is protected is proper application, reapplying every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
- Myth: Sunscreen isn’t necessary on cloudy, rainy, snowy days. Fact: Whether the sun is visible or the weather is warm or cold, UV rays can still damage your skin. the sun’s rays can penetrate through clouds, causing skin damage regardless of the weather or time of year. Sunscreen is necessary every single day, even in the height of Winter.
- Myth: Sunscreen ingredients harm the environment. Fact: While certain chemical sunscreen ingredients such as Oxybenzone or Octinoxate have been known to cause harm to coral reefs, reef-safe sunscreens work just as well in protecting your skin. Mineral sunscreens that contain Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are considered safer for our reefs and planet in general .
Mineral sunscreens are formulated with active ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. These minerals work by creating a physical barrier that reflects UV rays away from your skin, preventing sun damage. Many people are gravitating towards Mineral Sunscreen not only due to it’s environmental benefits, but it’s skin benefits as well. Mineral Sunscreen is known to be gentler on sensitive skin, and protects against both UVA and UVB Rays.
The downside that leaves some people hesitant about Mineral Sunscreen is the fact that it tends to leave a white cast on the skin, especially in higher SPF formulas.
Chemical Sunscreens work by absorbing UV Rays and converting them into heat, which gets released from the skin, preventing sun damage.
Chemical Sunscreens often have a lighter weight texture than their Mineral counterparts, and are less likely to leave a white cast on the skin. Many people choose to opt out of Chemical Sunscreen because it has proven to often irritate those with sensitive skin. It is also important to note that chemical sunscreens take around 20 minutes to become effective after application.
Broad-Spectrum Sunscreens combine both Mineral and Chemical ingredients in order to provide a wider range of UV protection.
- Offers protection against multiple types of UV Rays.
- Can have a lighter, more cosmetically appealing texture.
- Not optimal for those looking for sunscreen without chemical ingredients.
- The chemical filters in Broad-Sprectrum Sunscreen could cause irritation to sensitive skin.
Making the right choice when it comes to which sunscreen to use depends on your skin type, preferences, and skin sensitivity. While Mineral sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection and are less harsh on sensitive skin, they can leave a white cast. Chemical sunscreens are also an excellent option for those who prefer a lighter weight texture, but some may experience irritation. Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide the best of both worlds, but may not work for everyone’s individual skin needs. Always listen to your skin and double check the ingredients on a product to ensure it suits your skin type. The key to effective sun protection is consistent application, and using enough of it. A good rule of thumb is the three finger rule. Seeking shade during peak hours, wearing sun-protective clothing, and using sunscreen daily is a sure fire way to keep your skin healthy and glowing.