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Fun Fact: UV exposure is responsible for 84% of aging. Yes, you read that right; 84%.  Sun exposure has a profound effect on aging and breaking down collagen in general. The number one question we get as skin care providers is “What is the most important product”. Quite simply, it’s your SPF. It’s the invisible protective barrier we apply to protect our investment in procedures and more importantly, our first line of defense against forming fatal skin cancers. Today, I will debunk the most common misconceptions about sunscreen and its use.

MYTH #1: “I am going on vacation and need some sun, so I don’t get burned.”

TRUTH: There is no such thing as a base tan. By the time your skin turns pink, or you start to feel the warmth from the sun, the damage is already done. A tan or turning pink is Mother Nature’s SPF; our biological way of protecting from UV rays. After the skin is tan or pink, your skin produces enzymes called proteases. Proteases are “self-destruct” enzymes and they dissolve collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid in the dermis (the deepest layer of skin). This damage accumulates and doesn’t become visible until our 40s and in some cases, much earlier depending on lifestyle. Your best bet? Apply your SPF about 20 mins before any exposure.  

MYTH #2:” I don’t need to wear SPF.  Its cloudy out today.”

TRUTH: Cloud cover only filters out about 20% of the UV rays. If you stay out long enough, you can get burned.  

MYTH #3: “I still have some SPF from last year I have to use up.

TRUTH: I get it. We all want to save money when possible. This is not one of those times. Sunscreen can expire and break down. As I mentioned before, it’s your most important product; don’t skimp.

MYTH #4: “Sunscreens are gross, heavy, oily and smell weird.”

TRUTH: They used to be! Especially the cheap ones that we used to get. Science and technology in the beauty industry have come a long way. Before, it used to be VERY expensive for companies to make sunscreens “pretty” or not leave a thick white paste on you. Zinc-based SPFs offer the widest range of protection, but most people don’t like them because of their past experiences. It’s 2020. Zinc-based SPFs are effective and feel light as a veil on the skin if felt at all. There are also a lot of Zinc based SPFs that are tinted, or even in powdered form to blend seamlessly or act as a great primer for the skin.

MYTH #5: “I look good with a tan.  We are all going to age, right?”

TRUTH: Having a sun-based tan is a trend.  Before the 1920’s having a tan determined your social status as a laborer working in the fields. CoCo Chanel (founder of the famous luxury brand) was the inspiration behind making a sun-based tan acceptable for the upper classes when she went to the south of France. She also smoked incessantly, which wasn’t frowned upon in those days either, and was considered a status symbol.  It’s a new century. Sun-based tans are so passé, Darling. Sunless tanners have come a long way even in the last 10 years. They don’t smell funky or turn you orange. And while, yes, we are all going to age, the difference is looking like Magda from There’s Something About Mary, or Jennifer Aniston…. your choice!    

Some excerpts inspired by Dr. Mark Lee’s article “Blasting Ten Sun Care Myths” in the February issue of Skin Inc. magazine.


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