5 Things Even Smart People Get Wrong About Sunscreen

If you consider about half of all Indians who reach 65 will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime, you may believe it’s smart to get a skin test. But another intelligent move would be to become well-versed in what’s true and what’s false when it comes to sunscreen. There are many longstanding misconceptions about when to use sunscreen and when to keep it on the shelf. Today, board-certified dermatologist Dr. D.M. Mahajan sounds off on common SPF mistakes.

According to survey, around 40% Americans developed some sort of skin cancer in 2018
-Source: AAD

1. You Don’t Put on Enough

You may have heard that a shot glass of sunscreen is plenty to cover your body. But knowing and doing are not the same thing. Studies indicate that most people apply 25% of the necessary amount of sunscreen to reach the SPF on the label. If you underapply, you get less protection and increase the risk of sunburn, prematurely aging skin, and skin cancer. The solution is simple — reapply liberally and often.

2. You Only Look at SPF

Look for the phrase “broad-spectrum” on the label of your sunscreen. If you don’t see it, you’re probably exposing your skin to UVA and UVB rays. Although most sunscreens today are broad-spectrum, makeup and moisturizers with SPF may not offer UVA protection. We suggest you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily.

3. You Believe Darker Skin Makes You Immune From Sun Damage

Although darker skin has extra melanin to minimize the risk of sunburn, this protein does not protect the skin from UVA rays. Also, dark skin does not sound the alarm of a prominent marker — the sunburn. So whether you have a fair skin tone or dark, you are still vulnerable to sun damage and should apply sunscreen liberally.

4. You Apply Sunscreen Too Late

Read the label. You should put on sunscreen at least a half-hour before exposing your skin to the sun. It takes that long for the active ingredients to absorb into the skin and activate. If you’re going to the beach or to hang out poolside, don’t wait until you are already in the sun. You should apply sunscreen in the car or on the porch and wait for the necessary time for absorption and activation

5. You Don’t Reapply Often Enough

To get the optimal effect of its ability to block dangerous UV rays, you must reapply sunscreen regularly. No matter if it’s an SPF of 15 or 50, water-resistant or not, reapplications are crucial. We recommend at least every half-hour but read the label. And it’s not only necessary when you’re lounging by the pool, but it’s also critical if you’re working by a window or driving in your car. UV rays penetrate glass and can be just as dangerous as direct sun exposure.

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