The Most Common Myths About Sun Protection

17/07/2023, Lanserhof

Sun protection is an important topic, but there are some myths around it. Our friends at the award-winning Lanserhof clinics would like to introduce you to the most common misconceptions about sun protection and clear them up at the same time. They will also teach you how to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

Myth 1: “Mineral sunscreen is safer and more effective than chemical sunscreen.”  

Mineral sunscreen, also called “physical” or “non-absorbed sunscreen,” is made of minerals, specifically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These two substances act as a kind of physical barrier on the skin, reflecting UV rays. Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, also called “absorbed sunscreen,” absorbs these UV rays, converts them into heat, and then releases them from the body. A mineral sunscreen and a chemical sunscreen with the same SPF provide equal protection. The type of sunscreen to use is a matter of personal taste. Mineral creams serve as a kind of physical protection, as they lie on the skin and are less likely to trigger skin reactions on sensitive skin than chemical creams. Only the white veil on the skin is sometimes perceived as annoying. The advantage of chemical creams is that a higher sun protection factor is possible. Furthermore, they are quickly absorbed and do not leave a white film on the skin. However, they have a very limited shelf life and can trigger allergies or have a hormone-active effect.

Myth 2: “Clouds keep UV rays away.”

False! Clouds, unfortunately, offer hardly any protection, as up to 90% of UV radiation reaches the skin anyway. Even in the shade, sun protection is necessary because UV rays scatter in all directions due to reflection. Likewise, up to 50% of UV rays still penetrate through a sunshade. UV-A rays are fairly constant throughout the year and at all times of the day; they even have the ability to penetrate window glass. Although UVB rays, which are responsible for tanning, are blocked, UVA rays land unfiltered on the skin. They penetrate deeper and are responsible for ageing processes and allergies. Drivers behind the windscreen therefore have less to fear from sunburn than from premature skin ageing. It makes sense to apply sunscreen both in the shade and during longer car journeys. For this reason, year-round UVA and UVB ray protection is highly recommended. 

Myth 3: “You won’t get a tan with SPF 50+.” 

Wrong! Even with a sun protection factor of 50+, our skin can definitely get a tan. This is because the production of the tanning-friendly pigment called “melanin” is still stimulated. It may take a little longer, but it is definitely gentler on our skin. 

Myth 4: “Reapplying sunscreen prolongs sun protection.” 

False! Reapplication cannot prolong the protection of a sunscreen. The stated sun protection factor (SPF/SPF) indicates the factor by which the skin’s own protection time is extended by applying the sunscreen. Nevertheless, this time should only be extended to a maximum of two-thirds so that the skin does not become too irritated. However, it is always advisable to reapply the cream to maintain the protective layer, especially after contact with water. Because claims that suncreams are “waterproof” do not mean that full protection remains. After contact with water or sweat, only 50% of the light protection is still retained. This is definitely not enough to adequately protect the skin. 

Myth 5: “No sunburn, no skin cancer.” 

False. Because our skin does not forget anything. It has a kind of sun memory, so it remembers years of sun exposure, even those without sunburn, and these can lead to skin cancer. The exact mechanisms of cancer development have not yet been fully researched. But it is no secret that sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer enormously. 

Myth 6: “Pre-tanning avoids skin damage.”   

Natural tanning of the skin provides very little protection against sun damage. A study by the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health showed that workers who became accustomed to the sun in March only achieved a level of protection equivalent to a factor 1.5 sunscreen by the end of the summer. Even worse for our skin is pre-tanning on tanning beds. It’s true that tanning beds, which emit both UVA and UVB radiation, can reduce the risk of sunburn in some circumstances. However, as with sunscreen, the risk of skin cancer is not eliminated. On the contrary, the radiation from tanning beds is at least as carcinogenic as sun exposure. According to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, the risk of developing skin cancer increases by up to 75% if a tanning bed is visited regularly before the age of 30. 

Myth 7: “The SPF in make-up provides adequate sun protection.” 

The foundation in tinted moisturiser with SPF can only give sun protection if the product is also applied comparatively thickly, as in the case of sunscreen. Almost no one uses this amount of foundation. In addition, usually only UVB light protection factors are used; they protect against sunburn but still let UVA rays into the skin, which are significantly responsible for skin ageing. Therefore, dermatologists recommend applying a base layer of a sunscreen with a broad protective spectrum (i.e., protection from UVA and UVB rays) to the face and neck, followed by your makeup, tinted serum or cream with SPF.

Sun Protection Checklist

Here again, in a nutshell, is a checklist with the most important tips to help you enjoy the summer fully protected:

  • Apply UV protection every day, even when the sky is overcast and cloudy.
  • Always consider the individual’s skin type when choosing the SPF level.
  • Go to the shade more often and avoid the midday sun.
  • Do not forget to reapply! This maintains the protective effect.
  • When it comes to sun protection, it’s better to be safe than sorry! For the face, try the “two-finger method”: squeeze sunscreen onto your entire middle and index finger and spread this amount over your face and neck. Then use the optimum amount for sufficient protection.
  • The face and body require two different sun creams: “The fat content and other ingredients are tailored to the needs of facial skin,” explains the expert. In addition, many sun creams for the face contain special antioxidants (e.g., Q10), which simultaneously prevent premature ageing of the skin.
  • For children and allergy sufferers, a combination of chemical and mineral filters is most suitable. This combines the advantages of both and is especially optimal for sensitive skin.

If this blog has got you interested in starting your wellness journey call our wellness advisors at 020 7843 3597 or enquire here.

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