The higher the SPF the better? and other common sunscreen myths

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We're right in the middle of summer.  Some of us are starting to see tan lines - that common wrist tan line or various lines across the back from a few different pairs of swimsuits or tank tops. The tan line serves as a reminder of the times that you didn't use sunscreen and probably should have, right? 

We all know the basic truth:  It's better to use sunscreen or sun protection every day.  Especially on days when you're spending a lot of time outside.  We all love the summer sun, but unfortunately our skin doesn't.

There's a lot of myths about sunscreen, lets get to the bottom of them with Everly Grace's Top 10 Sunscreen Myths, collected from some of our favorite experts.

1.)  MYTH: The higher the SPF number the better. (from Heyday.com)

“I put on, like, SPF 100, so I’m fine for the beach day.” Big no. We absolutely don’t recommend that you use SPF 4 or 8, because it won’t give you the protection you need. So in that way, yes, a higher SPF is better. However, once you reach SPF 50, anything above that will make minimal difference. “In essence, SPF 100 is just a lot of unnecessary chemicals or marketing,” our Skin Therapist, Taryn says. A good cheat sheet is the following: SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. For everyday use, we always recommend that you use a minimum of SPF 30.

2.) MYTH: Sunscreen causes health problems. 

We are not oxybenzone fans and only use "Clean Sunscreen."  Why?  Because our skin is the largest organ of the body and sunscreen can actually be more cancer causing than the rays alone. Sunscreen does not need to be full of chemicals to be effective. Also, many sunscreens are causing more damage to our environment. The chemicals are effecting our oceans, changing the colors of the coral reef and polluting our waters. Use a sunscreen that is good for your body and healthy for the environment. 

3.) MYTH: Every sunscreen works the same way, so it doesn't matter what formula you use. (from oprah.com)

Chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, etc.) work by absorbing damaging rays; physical sunscreens (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) reflect them. Some sunscreens combine both chemical and physical ingredients for more complete protection. If your skin is sensitive, it's best to use a physical sunscreen, which is less likely to cause irritation. 

Everly Grace recommends the following non-chemical sunscreens: Naturopathica Daily UV Defense Cream SPF 50 and Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen - both of these are free of chemicals like avobenzone and  oxybenzone and work by reflecting rays versus absorbing rays.

Notice the little jar icon?  That shows that this product expires 12 months from opening.

Notice the little jar icon?  That shows that this product expires 12 months from opening.

4.) MYTH: Sunscreens never expire (from mayoclinic.org)

Sunscreens are designed to remain at original strength for up to three years. This means that you can use leftover sunscreen from one year to the next. Some sunscreens include an expiration date — a date indicating when they're no longer effective - On many products, you'll find a "jar icon" showing that the product expires a number of months/years after opening (see photo). Discard sunscreen that is past its expiration date. If you buy sunscreen that doesn't have an expiration date, write the date of purchase on the bottle and be sure to throw it out within three years. Also, discard sunscreen that has any obvious changes in color or consistency.

5.) MYTH: Darker skin tones don't need sunscreen or as much. (from Heyday.com)

All skin tones need to be protected from UVA (aging, skin cancer) rays and UVB (burning) rays. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, dark skin tones were “most likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in its later stages than any other group in the study, and they also had the worst prognosis and the lowest overall survival rate.” So yes, while darker skin does produce more melanin that can help protect skin and may burn less quickly or easily, the protection is only to a certain extent. Darker skin can still get sunburns, skin cancer, and see the aging effects of the sun. 

Sunscreen isn't just for sunny days on the lake!

Sunscreen isn't just for sunny days on the lake!

6.) MYTH: You need sunscreen only on sunny days. (from washingtonpost.com)

Plenty of people have had the unpleasant experience of going out on a cool, overcast day — only to return with a nasty sunburn. Yet one of the most-cited reasons for forgoing sunscreen is cloud cover. When clouds are shrouding the sun, it’s easy to think that they’re protecting you from its rays. But unlike light or warmth, the sun’s skin-damaging ultraviolet radiation can’t be perceived directly. Although clouds block some UV radiation, 80 percent still reaches the Earth’s surface. Clouds can also have the effect of reflecting UV rays, enhancing their reach.

When it comes to a daily moisturizer with sunscreen, there's a different option for every skin type, contact Everly Grace for a recommendation on what would work best for you.

7.) MYTH: Waterproof sunscreen doesn’t need to be reapplied after you’re in the water. (from today.com)

“It is illegal to call a sunscreen waterproof under the new FDA regulations because it implies that no matter how long you're in the water, you’re protected, which isn’t true,” Dr. Cybele Fishman  said. “The new labeling states something is water-resistant and will list the time in the water you’ll be protected for (usually 40 or 80 minutes).” We do not use waterproof, but water resistant. Keep in mind that while enjoying the beauty of the mountains, but that also means we are much closer to the sun so even more important to be protected!

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8.) MYTH: I only need sunscreen in the summer, as winter sun is not that hot. (from Heyday.com)

The strength of the rays that burn and/or age your skin aren’t dependent on heat. It’s based on the UV Index. The UV Index provides a forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun, and it’s expressed on a scale of 0 (low) – 11 (extremely high).  This number comes from the U.S. National Weather Service, who uses a fancy computer model that relates the ground-level strength of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation to forecasted ozone layer strength, forecasted cloud cover, location elevation, and general ground observations. So even when it seems cloudy and cold, it’s still hidden up there.

Everly Grace recommends: use sunscreen on the ski slopes - being at a higher elevation means you're closer to the sun and can increase your risk of getting sunburned.

Christa and Everly covering their faces up for a day out in the sun!

Christa and Everly covering their faces up for a day out in the sun!

9.) MYTH: Sunscreen works better than covering up. (from medicalnewstoday.com)

It can be tempting to think that a layer of sunscreen makes the body invincible to the sun. Many people who wear sunscreen believe this allows them to stay protected throughout the day, even if much of the skin is exposed. The truth is, covering up the skin is much better protection than sunscreen. A long-brimmed hat and clothing will protect the skin better than any sunscreen. We also love clothes with SPF in them!

Everly Grace recommends: Keep your style when you're covering up!  See Christa and Everly ready for a day out in the sun this summer.

10.) MYTH: You can't get tan if you wear sunscreen. (from skincare.com)

“Of course you can still get tan while wearing sunscreen,” Vanda Serrador says. “It all depends on the strength of the SPF.” Simply put, the SPF number is a measure of how long your skin can be in direct sunlight without beginning to get red or sunburn. Side note: SPF only measures protection from UVB rays—the type that cause the skin to burn—and not UVA rays—the type that age the skin with over-exposure. That’s why it’s important to reach for a sunscreen with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.