With summer days in full swing, how much do you really know about skin care and the sun? There are myths you may believe right now that define how you are protecting your skin from summer sun. In order to understand the truth about sun exposure and your skin, you must first know the facts about UV rays. Almost all skin cancers, (melanoma and non-melanoma) are caused by too much UV radiation from the sun. There are three kinds of ultraviolet (UV) rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA rays penetrate the skin fairly deeply and cause genetic damage to cells and photo-ageing (wrinkles and blotchiness). UVB rays penetrate the top layer of the skin. They are the type that primarily causes sunburn and are also a major contributing factor to skin cancers. UVC rays are the least of your worries because they are absorbed by the atmosphere and never make it to the ground.
Now that you understand what you are really getting when you step outside this summer, let’s clear the air on a few summer skin care myths.
- Myth: The higher the SPF, the better the protection.
- The truth is that you need to look at more than just the SPF number on your sunscreen. The SPF on a sunscreen refers to the amount of protection the product offers from UVB rays or sunburns. However, you need to look for a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, which means it protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Choose an SPF of at least 15 and one of the following ingredients: mexoryl, oxybenzone or avobenzone (Parsol 1789) for UVA protection, or titanium dioxide.
- Myth: You don’t need sunscreen on a cloudy day.
- You may not feel the heat on an overcast day, but UV radiation from the sun can reach your skin through the clouds! That is why it is important to apply sunscreen every two hours as well as after sweating or swimming regardless of how strong the sun may feel.
- Myth: My make-up has SPF, so I am protected.
- Don’t buy into the belief that your SPF make-up is all you need to be protected from the sun. According to Leslie Bauman, MD, director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Group and author of The Skin Type Solution, you would have to put on 14 or 15 times the amount of makeup that a normal person would wear to reach the SPF on the label of powdered makeup. The same thing goes for foundation and liquid makeup. Make sure you use sunscreen in addition to your makeup.
Olansky Dermatology Associates is committed to helping patients achieve a healthy skin care regime during the summer months. A full body skin examination by a certified dermatologist can diagnose any current spots that have been damaged by the sun. Early detection is essential to successfully treating skin cancer and sunspots.