Busting Sunscreen Myths: Staying Safe Under UV Rays

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of all cancers in the United States? Over the last 35 years, the rate at which new melanoma cases emerge has tripled, with 76,500 diagnosed in 2013 alone. Unfortunately, less than 1 in 3 adults frequently use sunscreen and an even smaller percentage frequently seek shade, wear a hat or cover-up with long sleeves. Fortunately, becoming better informed on how to better read product labels, apply sunscreen and use other sun-protective measures, can help equip you in preventing serious skin damage.

Here we debunk 11 common sunscreen myths to help educate you on the best methods for protecting yourself and your family from the sun!

1. All Sunscreens Meet FDA Regulations: FALSE. At least 10% of sunscreen products being sold in the market do not meet industry regulations for protection standards.

2. Higher SPF = Better Protection: FALSE. Although many people may think the higher the SPF the more effective the product, this is not the case. Labels that boast high SPF can tempt one to stay in the sun for far too long, which will result in sunburn. Therefore, it is recommended to stick to an SPF ranging from 15-50.

3. Ingredients In My Sunscreen Aren’t Harmful: FALSE. Even within sunscreens, which are designed to protect you, there are ingredients that have been associated with serious health conditions. Ingredients that are commonly found in sunscreens that you should look to AVOID include:

  • Oxybenzone – Pregnant women and children should especially be cautious of oxybenzone, which is known to be an endocrine disruptor and has been associated with low birth weights. Oxybenzone is present in about 80% of sunscreens on the market so it’s important to keep an eye out for this ingredient. For a safer alternative, look for sunscreens that contain non-nano zinc oxide, a natural mineral that offers safe and effective, broad-spectrum protection.
  • Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) – While some Vitamin A is essential for a healthy pregnancy, excessive amounts can be associated with birth defects. Further, when applied to the skin, it can help accelerate skin damage.
  • Nanoparticles – Nanoparticles are ultra fine particles. You can find these nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in some newer zinc or titanium sunscreen formulations, particularly sprays. Titanium dioxide is classified as a “potential carcinogen” when inhaled in high doses. Therefore at Nine Naturals, we recommend that you use sunscreens which contain ingredients such as zinc oxide instead.

4. All Sunscreens Are Created Equal: FALSE. The safest sunscreens are cream-based sunscreens that use non-nano zinc oxide for broad spectrum protection at an SPF between 15-50 that suits your daily activity needs.

5. You don’t need to reapply sunscreen if it is “water-resistant” or “sweat-resistant”: FALSE. Even when wearing water-resistant and/or sweat-resistant sunscreen, you should always re-apply after being in the water or when sweating.

6. Your scalp is as vulnerable to the sun as the rest of your body: TRUE. In fact, the scalp is often more vulnerable to skin damage because people often neglect to protect their heads when out in the sun. Skin cancers of the scalp are nearly twice as deadly as skin cancers of the legs and arms. So, make sure to wear a hat and get your scalp checked regularly for skin damage.

7. Sunscreen is the only effective way to protect yourself from the sun: FALSE. Seeking shade and using hats and clothing as covers will also help you to effectively avoid UV exposure. By wearing UV sunglasses, you will also be able to help protect your eyes from sun damage.

8. Better application can help prevent skin damage: TRUE. How you apply your sunscreen can drastically affect whether you are properly protected and sun safe or not. Here are our top tips:

  1. Apply sunscreen on dry skin 15 minutes prior to sun exposure.
  2. The recommended amount for an application is 1 oz. or a shot glass full of sunscreen.
  3. Reapply every two hours, at a minimum.
  4. Reapplication is also necessary after swimming even if the sunscreen states it is water resistant.

9. Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Is Essential For Proper Protection: TRUE. Recent studies suggest that it is imperative you invest in a “broad-spectrum sunscreen”. Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays, when they are SPF 15 or higher. This is crucial as it has been found that when used with other sun-protection measures, they can significantly decrease the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, since you are being properly protected.

10. Early Detection Matters: TRUE. In the event that you develop skin cancer, early detection and treatment is almost always curable. Even if you have taken all the appropriate measures to prevent skin damage, it is recommended that you check your skin monthly and schedule regular check-ups with a dermatologist – especially if you have a light complexion and fairer hair.

11. Safer Sunscreen Alternatives Exist: TRUE. Nine Naturals is committed to providing safe, natural alternatives to its customers. Nine Naturals Natural Sunscreen SPF 32 is an all-natural, non-nano zinc oxide broad spectrum protection sunscreen. While protecting your skin from the sun, it also moisturizes with a luxurious formulation containing shea butter and jojoba seed oil.  Nine Naturals Natural Sunscreen SPF 32 received the highest safety rating by the Environmental Working Group and is a top rated pick in its 2014 Sunscreen Guide.

Want more information? Read our articles on Natural Sun Protection During Pregnancy & 9 Important Sun (and Sunscreen!) Safety Tips From Nine Naturals.