How Much SPF Do You Really Need? And 4 Other Questions
Summer is just a few weeks away, which means we technically should all be gearing up for a daily routine of slathering on some serious SPF several times a day to protect our skin from those harmful UV rays.
This is of course if you aren't already doing so, which of course, you are... right?!
Sure, sunscreen will protect you from getting a painful sunburn, but more than that, it protects your skin from suffering from lasting sunblock.
There's a lot of confusion out there about sunblock -- from how much to use to who should be using it -- and we're here to debunk those myths before your skin does it first.
No, I'm not a dermatologist, but I have studied skincare with the devotion of a monk for 30 plus years. I'm sharing this advice with you all because I care deeply and passionately about how you treat your skin.
Myth #1: If you can't eat the sunscreen you shouldn't put it on your face.
One common misconception is that the chemicals in sunscreen are bad for the skin on your face and your body. This is ridiculous. Any dermatologist will tell you that you should be wearing sunscreen on a daily basis, so this has long been debunked.
Not to mention the hypocrisy; I mean we wouldn't eat botox, but a lot of people get it injected in their foreheads.
Of course, you should always pay attention to how your skin reacts to a sunscreen. If you break out, or it stings your skin, that may not be the brand for you.
In general though, it's better to opt for a brand that specializes in skin care. My favorite is SkinCeuticals, which can be a little pricey, but the more expensive a sunscreen is, the more excited I am to use it and by extension, the more consistent I am.
If you want a great sunscreen on the cheaper side, try Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer.
Myth #2: All sunscreens are the same.
NO, NO, NO ladies and gentleman. They are NOT.
Just last week, I was in a Walgreens and saw a body wash for men called "Hair, Face & Body" and I almost fainted.
The skin on your face is far more delicate than the skin on your elbows (praise be to God), and you should treat it as such.
For instance, the skin on your face may react badly to a chemical sunscreen with ingredients like avobenzone, but not to a physical sunblock with physical agents like zinc and titanium oxides.
Again, you need to pay attention to what your skin reacts to. One rule of thumb I always stick with is if it feels good, it is good. The best modern facial sunscreens are formulated to the same high standards as skincare products.
They're designed to be comfortable to wear on your face, with textures that are lighter and more easily-absorbed than sunscreens for the body.
Myth #3: Anything over SPF 50 is a sham.
A common rumor circling around right now is that anything over 50 SPF is ineffective. This is because a few years ago, the FDA put a limit on marketing all SPFs above 50, so that all labels now read 50 plus.
However, experts all agree that the more SPF you use, the more coverage you get.
SPF stands for sun protection factor, and works like this: If your skin burns after 10 minutes in the sun, using an SPF of 20 should allow you to stay in the sun without burning for 200 minutes, because 10 x 20 = 200.
So go ahead and go nuts.
Myth #4: Darker skinned people don't need sunblock.
Again, false. While melanin does act as a natural sunblock to the deeper layers of the skin, the changing environment and harmful UV rays can still damage darker skin.
According to the Mayo Clinic, even though dark skin may not burn as easily as light skin, it's still at risk of sun damage from too much exposure, such as premature wrinkles and irregular skin pigmentation.
Dark skinned men and women should be using an SPF of 30 or higher to protect themselves from this kind of damage.
Myth #5: Sunscreen prevents you from getting enough Vitamin D.
Ugh. How many times do I need to go over this with people?
First of all, what makes you think you're good enough at applying sunscreen to literally stop your skin from producing Vitamin D? Are you a professional sunblock "putter-onner?" No.
Second, you don't need that much time in the sun to produce Vitamin D. Yes, the body produces more Vitamin D in response to sunlight, but it also self-regulates the amount.
That's common sense, because if your body just kept producing more and more Vitamin D the more you lay out in the sun, it would literally reach toxic levels.
All your body needs is about 10 to 15 minutes in the sun to produce more Vitamin D. After that, it levels out, and you can still wear sunscreen in that time.