Sunscreen Myths Busted and The Best Products to Use Corinne Caputo

My skin has only two colors during the summer; milk white or lobster red. The summer I was about to start college, I fell asleep on the beach while reading The Stranger. I didn’t have any sunscreen on (like a fool!). I didn’t realize how bad the burn was until I woke up the next day and the back of my legs had turned purple! I could barely walk; I was in a constant state of nausea, it felt like my skin was about to explode and I could barely climb out of bed.

I will spend the rest of my life campaigning for sunscreen use if it means I stop one person from having a burn that bad. You should know that a person’s risk for melanoma–the most serious form of skin cancer–doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns!

First you should check on this infographic from EWG about sunscreens ASAP.

Sunscreen Myths

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There are a lot of sunscreen myths and surprising truths. I encourage you to read this informative post by the Environmental Working Group. In the meantime I made a list of common sunscreen myths.

Myth: SPF 45 or higher doesn’t work better than SPF 30.

Reality: Well in fact, according to this Women’s Health magazine post, a higher number is better. They talked to Howard Sobel, M.D., of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He says: “You get 99 percent sunburn protection with SPF 90, versus 96 percent with SPF 30,” says. While the 3% increase seems insignificant, over a lifetime those percentage points will add up and save you from a lot of sun damage.

Myth: All sunscreens work the same way.

Reality: All sunscreens do NOT work the same. Some sunscreens are physical sunblocks that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block UVA and UVB rays, while other sunscreens use chemicals such as avobenzone to do the job. But determining what offers the best protection is up for debate. Some dermatologists prefer sunscreens that use newer active ingredients like Helioplex and Meroxyl SX beause it offers both UVA and UVB protection.

Myth: A little sunscreen will get you through the day.

Reality: It’s a general rule to reapply every 2 hours. If you’re in a pool or on a beach, you should reapply more frequently because it could wash off. You should also apply sunscreen before you arrive at the beach so you aren’t burning when you arrive.

Myth: Last year’s bottle is okay to use this summer.

Reality: Well, in a perfect world you would be using enough sunscreen that you don’t have any left over from last year, but I know I am very guilty of not using enough. Basically, you should check the expiration date on your sunscreen bottle before you use it. Plus, some sunscreens break down quickly so you shouldn’t let it sit around the house for too long.

Best Sunscreens For Your Body, Lips and Face

I picked these three sunscreens as best because not only do they offer good protection from the sun, but the chemicals used in them are all low hazard.

BODY:

Loving Naturals Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+

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This sunscreen offers good UVA and UVB protection and can be purchased on the Loving Naturals website and on Amazon.

LIPS:

Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStuff Lip Balm, SPF 30

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This lip balm does tend to make your lips whiteish after you use it but that is expected and worth the protection from the sun, and the low toxicity levels in the formula. You can buy it on Amazon.

FACE:

Badger All-Season Face Stick, SPF 35

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This sunscreen is a stick you can rub all over your face! It offers good UVA and UVB protection for your face and can be purchased on the W.S. Badger Co. website, on Uncommon Scents and on Amazon.

You can search for your own sunscreen on EWG’s website to see if it is safe, giving you the UVA/UVB protection you want, and if there are high toxicity levels in the formula.

Feature image via ShutterStock, add’l images via Amazon

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  1. Thanks for this article, I’m going to check out some of those sites and products.

  2. My friends always kid me about my diligent application and re-application of sunscreen. That is, until one of them developed melanoma. Now, he is so proud to tell me that he’s wearing sun block and re-applying it.

    As you can see, I’m super fair. My Mom was a big supporter of sunscreen and layers in the summer to protect us. Of course, you forget sometimes when you’re a kid. I think I’ve had 2 really bad burns, thankfully none of them turned me purple! That sounds horrible. Now, I’m the sunscreen bandit! I put it on my face everyday, and exposed parts if I will be outside even for a minute, and lather it on when I’ll spend any real time outdoors. Thank you for our pre-summer reminder!

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  4. Dermalogica’s Solar Defence booster has an SPF 50 and can be mixed into your moisturiser, which is perfect for under your make up or on it’s own. There’s even a version for those with oily skin. I personally use it every day, it’s the best :)

    It’s definitely very important to wear sunblock, not just to prevent things like skin cancer but the sun is the main culprit for wrinkles!

  5. Thank you so much for this article! No one can ever be over-informed when it comes to sun safety. I lost my dad to melanoma when I was seven (twenty years ago this summer), so I am well aware of how dangerous the sun can really be. I am so sorry to hear about your massive burn, and I hope that there was no permanent damage for you! Thanks again for keeping your readers informed and aware of the actual danger that does exist and helping them to understand some sunscreens are better than others.

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