Blog, Skin Cancer Prevention, Skin Care, Sunscreen

5 Sunscreen Myths: Debunked by Dermatologists

Dermatology Acadiana Lafayette Sunscreen Recommendations Dermatologist

In honor of Melanoma Awareness Month, we’re dedicating the month of May to spreading the word about some sunscreen myths and proper sun care.

Slathering on sunscreen does more than prevent wrinkles, sun damage, and other cosmetic concerns – it could save your life. Learn more in-depth about skin cancer and cancer self checks.

You might be surprised to learn that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s estimated that one person dies from this disease every hour.

Proper sunscreen habits are critical to preventing skin cancers, yet there are many popular misconceptions about what an effective sunscreen routine involves. In this post we’re setting the record straight on five of the most prevalent myths people believe about sunscreen.

Sunscreen Myth 1: SPF: The Higher the Better

Dermatology Acadiana Lafayette Sunscreen Optimal SPF

What’s most important is not a sky-high SPF, but that your sunscreen is broad spectrum (protects from both UVA/UVB rays).

We recommend an SPF of at least 30 for day-to-day use.

Some people shy away from higher SPFs because they think the sunscreen formulas will be thicker and leave them with a pasty white complexion. Think again!

Here are some of our favorite sunscreen brands that offer products containing all of the ingredients you want (and none of the ones you don’t):

  • EltaMD: offers a wide variety of sunscreen options in a range of formats (spray, lotion, tinted, etc.) for all skin types, including toddlers, oily/acne prone skin and mature/drier skin. Even the highest SPFs apply sheer on your skin, making them the perfect moisturizing sunscreen for layering underneath makeup as part of your daily skin care routine.
  • Revision Skin Care: sells both tinted and sheer sunscreen products, all of which contain all-natural ingredients. Their Intellishade tinted sunscreen offers SPF 45 protection while doubling as a light coverage foundation – for days when you want a more even skin tone with just a touch of color.
  • SkinMedica: offers a rejuvenating sunscreen called Total Defense and Repair, which protects skin while reversing visible sun damage. In addition to UVA and UVB rays, this sunscreen also protects skin from harmful infrared rays, all the while reducing the appearance of wrinkles and skin discoloration from prior sun exposure.


Myth 2: Sunscreen Applied in the Morning Will Last All Day

Sunscreen How Often Reapply

Even if your sunscreen claims to last all day or be waterproof, re-application is critical to making sure you’re getting optimal protection.

As a general rule of thumb, you want to re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours if you’re going to have prolonged sun exposure.

If you’re going to be swimming or sweating, you should re-apply sunscreen immediately after toweling off.

Lastly, make sure that you’re not neglecting other areas of your skin that also see the sun every day. Besides your face, you’ll want to apply sunscreen on your neck, chest, and hands (plus arms and legs during the summer!)

Myth 3: You Only Need Sunscreen When It’s Sunny Outside

Only Need Sunscreen When Sunny

While it’s true that your chances of getting a sunburn are highest when the sun is directly overhead (around 10am – 2pm), you need sunscreen all day, every day, at all times of the year.

UVB rays (which cause skin burning and some skin cancers) may peak at noon, but UVA rays (which contribute to signs of aging as well as skin cancers) are constant throughout the entire day – even on cloudy days.

Because of the milder climate in the south, people tend to be outside year-round. When the weather is milder, people think less about sunscreen. Remember: wear sunscreen every day, even in winter, and be sure to protect all sun-exposed areas of your skin.

Myth 4: You Don’t Need Sunscreen if Your Makeup Contains SPF

SPF Makeup Enough

While extra SPF protection doesn’t hurt, the sunscreen in your makeup is usually not enough to protect your skin from the sun.

I always recommend a layer of sunscreen under makeup. EltaMD sunscreens are perfect for layering underneath makeup since the formulation goes on clear.

This makes it look and feel like you don’t have anything on, while you’re actually giving your skin optimum protection against the effects of the sun.

EltaMD UV Clear has a very light formula and is ideal for acne prone patients and EltaMD UV Facial is more moisturizing, making it good for people with drier skin.

Revisions Intellishade Tinted Moisturizer is a popular option for summer, since it offers effective SPF protection with a layer of sheer coverage. This tinted sunscreen helps to fade sun spots in the long term, and instantly balance your skin tone for that no-makeup-makeup look that we love in summer months.

In terms of makeup lines that play nicely with sunscreen, we recommend Glo Minerals. This line of mineral makeup products was designed for dermatologists and their patients. Their powder foundations provide buildable coverage that will last you all day, and their formulas provide additional UV protection. Again, remember it should be used in conjunction with, not instead of sunscreen!

Myth 5: You Only Need a Skin Check if You Have Had a Skin Cancer

Dermatology Acadiana Lafayette Skin Check

While you definitely want to come in for a skin check if you see a mark on your skin that wasn’t there before and/or doesn’t pass the ABCDE Melanoma Test, you also want to come in at least once per year to check your skin with a dermatologist.

Regular cancer self-exams are important, but some skin cancers can go undetected by the untrained eye.  You definitely want to get your skin examined by a dermatologist on an annual basis.

When Was the Last Time You Got Your Skin Checked?

If it’s been more than a year, or you have any marks on your skin you’re wondering about – make an appointment with us today!

Call (337) 235-6886 to set up time for a skin check, and find out which sunscreen and skin care products will be best for protecting your skin and achieving your cosmetic goals. Make sure to have a good skin care routine, as that will also go a long way!

This Melanoma Month, join us in the fight against sunscreen myths: next time you hear someone spreading any of the misconceptions above, you can set them straight!

Spread the knowledge and spread the sunscreen!