Did you know that about 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun? When you take into consideration the serious risk of skin cancer, you really want to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays when you go out. Sunscreen is one of the best ways to do that, in addition to wearing protective clothing and avoiding direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time.
At Prestige Physicians in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we want to help you live the healthiest lifestyle possible. That’s why our physicians have compiled this helpful list of myths and facts about sunscreen to keep in mind this upcoming summer season.
Myth: A higher SPF offers better protection
Because of the way sunscreens are labeled, we tend to think that a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 is twice as effective as an SPF 15. Instead, SPF levels work like this:
- SPF 15 sunscreen blocks about 94% of UV rays that cause sunburn
- SPF 30 sunscreen blocks about 97%
- SPF 45 sunscreen blocks about 98%
The differences in percentage of protection are much smaller as the SPFs increase from here. Even an SPF 100 sunscreen won’t offer complete protection. So, you likely don’t need more protection than an SPF 45 sunscreen.
Fact: You still need sunscreen if you’re using an umbrella or sitting under a shaded area at the beach
This is because the sand reflects 17% of the sun’s harmful UV rays. So, even if your umbrella isn’t letting any UV rays in and you aren’t sitting in direct sunlight, you can still get sunburned from the UV rays reflected by the sand.
Myth: People with dark skin don’t need sunscreen
The higher levels of melanin that are present in darker skin only offer the level of protection equivalent to an SPF of about 1.5 to 2, which is much lower than the recommended SPF level of 15 or higher.
And, because this myth is so often assumed, people of color are diagnosed with skin cancer when the disease is more advanced and more likely to prove fatal. So, it is necessary for people of color to wear sunscreen to protect from sunburns and skin cancer.
Fact: Using sunscreen does not affect your vitamin D absorption
Sunscreen will not influence your body’s absorption of vitamin D. Additionally, you only need about 15 minutes a day of sun exposure to produce vitamin D. After this period of time, your body’s production of vitamin D halts. So staying in the sun for longer won’t continuously produce more vitamin D.
If you can’t get your vitamin D from the sun, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends taking a supplement and eating vitamin D fortified foods, like milk. Some foods that are naturally high in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and cheese.
To learn more about protecting your skin, call our office today.