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Five Common Myths About Sunscreen

We’re debunking the most common sunscreen myths to keep your skin protected all year round.

There’s no better time to debunk face sunscreen myths than summer. We all know that wearing SPF year-round is essential for optimal skin health and safety, but wearing it daily in the summer is of extra importance as this is when UV rays are the strongest (especially UVB rays, which cause sunburn). And even though we are talking about the importance of sunscreen now more than ever before—much to the approval of dermatologists—there’s still a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to sunscreen tips and facts. We also know that sunscreen can be seriously confusing thanks to the different filters, numbers on the bottle, textures, formulas and so on—what does it all mean?

Have you ever wondered: Does sunscreen expire? Or can you tan with sunscreen? We’ve got the answers for you. Read on to find out the truth about five of the most common myths surrounding SPF along with sunscreen tips that will have your skin protected and burn-free 365 days a year.

Myth #1: Sunscreen doesn’t have an expiry date.

Yes, expired sunscreen is a thing. Just like other items of skincare, SPF has a shelf life. The expiry date is usually printed somewhere on the bottle or the cap; it’s important to go by that date to ensure you’re getting the proper level of protection. Does expired sunscreen still work? The simple answer is: It’s best not to find out. Expiry dates exist for a reason, and when it comes to SPF, the efficacy is likely significantly diminished if it’s past the date on the bottle. If you go ahead and use that expired sunscreen, you might end up with a burn, which is not good for you or your skin. The ingredients in face sunscreen formulas break down over time, which in turn makes the product less effective at protecting your skin from damaging UV rays. Where you keep your sunscreen is another tip to note. If you leave your bottle in a hot car day after day, this could affect the efficacy of the formula; it’s best to keep it in a cool, dry place like on a shelf or in a cupboard.

Myth #2: Sunscreen prevents tanning.

While SPF is proven to help protect your skin from the sun, especially when you’re using formulas that are SPF 30 or higher (SPF 50+ is ideal!), no face sunscreen is going to provide you with 100% protection. Sunscreen provides you with a high level of protection, which means it minimizes damage to your skin and therefore minimizes your tan; depending on how much time you spend in the sun, you still might get some level of a tan—unless, of course, you’re using expired sunscreen. (See above.) If you’re looking for a face sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, SkinCeuticals’ SPFs are loved by dermatologists and safe for all skin tones, even sensitive skin.

Myth #3: Sunscreen is bad for your skin.

Sunscreen is not bad for your skin, but UV rays are. There are two different types of sunscreen filters on the market: mineral and chemical. Mineral filters, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, sit on the surface of the skin and block UV rays, while chemical filters are absorbed into the skin and create a chemical reaction that breaks UV rays down and makes them not harmful to your skin. No matter which type of filter your sunscreen has, both are safe to use. Some people prefer mineral filters because they can be more sensitive-skin-friendly, making them an excellent option for easily aggravated skin. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 50 and Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50 are two popular face sunscreens that can be used on any skin type, but they’re also safe for sensitive skin thanks to their non-irritating mineral formulas.

Myth #4: You don’t need to reapply sunscreen.

This is a common one, so if you’re wondering how often to reapply sunscreen, we get it! The general rule is that you should reapply your sunscreen every two hours. This rule holds if you’re spending short amounts of time outdoors or in a car (think running errands or taking the dog for a midday walk), but if you are at the beach and going swimming or sweating a lot, every two hours might not be enough. This also depends on the type of sunscreen you’re using. Some formulas are created to be worn in the water, making them more water resistant than other SPFs, so it’s important to keep that in mind. Just remember: It’s better to be safe than sorry, so be diligent with your sunscreen application throughout the day.

Myth #5: You can’t use face sunscreen on your body.

Can face sunscreen be used on the body? Absolutely! There probably isn’t a huge difference between face and body sunscreens when it comes to the sun protection filters in each. Face sunscreens often have additional skincare ingredients to make application more enjoyable and to amp up complexion-enhancing benefits that you might not necessarily need for the rest of your body. But the sun protection factor remains the same in both face and body sunscreens. For example, a formula like SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50 is formulated specifically for oily skin on the face, providing a matte finish to help minimize large pores and improve skin texture. It technically could be used on the body even though it wasn’t formulated for that purpose. However, face sunscreens come in smaller bottles and contain less product, so it’s not very economical to use them for the body.

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