- Five Common Sunscreen Myths You Need To Stop Believing
- Separating sunscreen fact from fiction
- Sunscreen Myths Debunked
- Sunscreen facts and fictions: What you need to know about protecting your skin
- Dermatologists Can Help Separate Fact From Fiction for Sun Exposure, Sunscreen and Vitamin D
- Don’t be Duped by These 5 Skincare Myths
- Myth 1: There is one right kind of skincare regimen
- Myth 2: You only need skincare for your face
- Myth 3: The higher the SPF, the better the protection
- Myth 4: Beauty sleep is real only in fairy tales
- Myth 5: Eating greasy foods will make you break out
Five Common Sunscreen Myths You Need To Stop Believing
We all know how crucial sunscreen is when it comes to skincare. But even today, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around regarding the usage and effectiveness of the product.
So, I spoke with a medical expert to debunk some of the most common sunscreen and skincare myths:
Myth 1# You don’t need to use sunscreen during cloudy days.
If you’re stepping outside, you need to apply sunscreen. Even if it's rainy or cloudy. This is because the clouds don't block the harmful UVA and UVB rays from penetrating your skin.
“According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clouds filter less than 25% of the UV rays that penetrate your skin to cause skin cancer,” says Dr. Tony Yuan, MD and board-certified physician at Doctor On Demand.
“Even though you may feel cooler on a cloudy day, your skin will still absorb a majority of the UVA and UVB rays,” he adds. Bottom line, never skip sunscreen, regardless of the weather.
Myth 2# You can’t get sunburned while you’re in the water.
“This is completely false. UVB rays can still penetrate water, especially if you are in shallow water,” explains Dr. Yuan. In addition, “sunlight can reflect off the water leading to increased UV exposure to parts of your body that are not immersed in water,” he adds. This results in sunburn.
Similarly, car windows aren't effective either when it comes to sun protection. While the glass might be able to block UVB rays, you still need to apply sunscreen to protect your skin from UVA rays.
Use at least a shot glass full of sunscreen to slather all over your body, for maximum protection, recommends the American Academy of Dermatology.
Myth 3# A sunscreen with super-high SPF lasts all day long.
Using a high SPF just once a day isn't going to cut it. “SPF numbers are how much the sunscreen will block UVB rays from damaging your skin over a period of two hours,” explains Dr. Yuan. “After that, the effectiveness of the protection decreases dramatically,” says the health expert.
This leaves your skin vulnerable to overexposure to the harmful UV rays. Always re-apply sunscreen every two hours while you are exposed to the sun, he recommends. Moreover, note that a normal sunscreen only offers protection against UVB rays. So, opt for one that mentions 'broad-spectrum' on the label.
A broad-spectrum sunscreen will effectively protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
Myth 4# You can only get skin cancer on body parts that are exposed to the sun.
While it's true that you are more ly to develop skin cancer on the exposed parts of your body, it can develop in other parts of your body too. This includes places you don’t suspect, soles of your feet or underneath your nails.
“Although sun exposure is a major contributing factor to most types of skin cancer, it is not the only factor,” notes Dr. Yuan. Various other factors, your genes, can play a role in the development of melanoma — which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
“So, if you see a suspicious looking spot on a part of your body that doesn't get much sunlight, don't disregard it. Make sure you seek a professional medical opinion,” he advises.
Myth 5# You won’t get skin cancer as long as you use sunscreen.
No sunscreen offers complete protection, no matter how high the SPF. “There is no single sunscreen that can block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
This is why it's important to wear protective gear such as sunglasses, loose protective clothes, and hats — to reduce the risk of a sunburn,” says Dr. Yuan. In addition, stay in the shade as much as possible.
And avoid sun exposure during peak hours — between 10 am and 2 pm.
Other than that, don't forget to apply sunscreen over commonly overlooked areas your back, feet, ears and hairline.
If you've sensitive skin, use a physical sunscreen that contains ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Suntegrity's Unscented Natural Mineral Sunscreen and Avene's Mineral Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion are highly recommended.
And lastly, don't use expired sunblock or sunscreen. It's not only ineffective but might also damage your skin.
Separating sunscreen fact from fiction
Next time you're scanning the aisles for your summer sun protection, consider that producers of five well-known sunscreen brands are facing a class action lawsuit alleging that their claims mislead consumers about their products' ability to ward off UV rays and prevent skin damage and cancer.
The suit got us thinking: Are we really clear on what sunscreens can and can't do? Maybe not. So we took some of the biggest claims and ran them by experts. You might want to take what they say — along with the sunscreens they use — to the beach with you this summer.
Myth No. 1: Sunscreen is all you need to stay safe.
Reality: “Sunscreen is only one part of the sun-protection picture,” explains Francesca Fusco, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “Just slathering it on and doing nothing else isn't going to cut it because, even with sunscreen, there's still up to a 50 percent risk that you'll burn.”
You also need to seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when sunlight is strongest; cover up with clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses; do regular skin self-exams; and get a professional skin evaluation annually. (Health.com: How to spot skin cancer )
Myth No. 2: SPF measures levels of protection against both UVB and UVA rays.
Reality: The SPF (sun protection factor) measures only the level of protection against UVB rays.
But several of the 16 active ingredients approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in sunscreens also block or absorb UVA rays, says Warwick L. Morison, M.D.
, professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins Medical School and chairman of the Skin Cancer Foundation's Photobiology Committee.
Ingredients include: avobenzone (Parsol 1789), octocrylene, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide, as well as the recently approved Mexoryl SX. Make sure one of these is in your sunscreen, or look for products labeled “broad spectrum,” which means they protect against UVB and UVA rays. (Health.com: Remedies for skin-care problems )
Myth No. 3: Some sunscreens can protect all day.
Reality: “Regardless of the SPF or what the label says, sunscreens must be reapplied every two hours,” Fusco says. “The active ingredients in most products begin to break down when exposed to the sun.” Only physical blockers such as zinc oxide stay potent after two hours, but not all sunscreens are made with these ingredients.
Myth No. 4: Some sunscreens are waterproof.
Reality: The FDA does not recognize the term “waterproof,” so don't count on sunscreen to last through hours of swimming. The agency does recognize “water/sweat/perspiration resistant” (which means a product offers SPF protection after 40 minutes of exposure to water) and “very water/sweat/perspiration resistant” (which means it still protects after 80 minutes).
To be safe, reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating. (Health.com: UV-protective clothing )
Myth No. 5: A sunscreen can provide “total sunblock.”
Reality: “No sunscreen blocks 100 percent of UV rays,” Fusco says. An SPF 15 protects against 93 percent of UV rays, SPF 30 protects against 97 percent, and SPF 50 wards off 98 percent. You should slather two tablespoons on your body a half-hour before going outside, so the sunscreen has time to absorb into your skin. E-mail to a friend
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Sunscreen Myths Debunked
Summer time…and the livin’s easy. But sun care is…complicated. When it comes to picking an SPF, choosing between mineral and chemical and knowing how to apply them correctly, anyone might feel overwhelmed. We know sunscreen is necessary, but how do we know if we got it right? Here are 5 essential truths about sunscreen that separate fact from fiction.
True or false? False. Both mineral and chemical sunscreens protect skin from UV rays. The difference is in how they work, and potential side effects from ingredients.
Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as an actual physical barrier that works immediately, blocking both UVA (sun rays that lead to premature aging and wrinkles) and UVB (rays that cause sunburn). Chemical sunscreens use ingredients oxybenzone or octinoxate that absorb UV rays and break them down before they reach the skin, but need 20 or 30 minutes to bind to skin to be effective.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tells us that minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have very low toxicity, and do not cause skin reactions or allergies.
But it’s a different story for chemicals oxybenzone, found in a majority of chemical sunscreens.
EWG gives these chemicals in sunscreens high toxicity ratings due to their ability to penetrate the skin, disrupt our endocrine functioning and fairly high rate of causing skin allergies.
True or false? False—you just have to apply them right. Easy application tips can prevent white streaks.
Mineral sunscreens should be applied differently than chemical versions because they are meant to lay on the surface of skin. Here are some essential tips:
- Moist, hydrated skin is a must. Before sunscreen, apply moisturizer or a body oil One Love Organics Gardenia + Tea Antioxidant Body Serum, which absorbs quickly (and added antioxidants boost protection from skin damaging free radicals caused by sun exposure).
- Don’t use too much at once. Apply a small amount to hands, rub it between your palms for a few seconds, then pat it in, don’t rub in long streaks.
- Move fast, working in small sections, since mineral sunscreen tends to dry quickly.
For sheer coverage on your face, try a tinted sunscreen MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Cream, which is oil-free and an ideal makeup primer. For dry skin, try Bare Republic Mineral Tinted Face Sunscreen Lotion, made with highly nourishing baobab and kukui nut oils.
True or false? True—if they contain certain chemicals.
Oxybenzone can not only mimic hormones in our bodies, but can also causes changes to baby coral—including DNA damage, deformities and susceptibility to bleaching, according to the National Ocean Service. Because of widespread coral bleaching on its shores, Hawaii recently banned the sale of chemical sunscreens with oxybenzone, effective in 2021.
Skip the oxybenzone and look for Reef Safe sunscreens from Badger, MyChelle, All Good, Goddess Garden and Thinksport.
True or false? False. We need sunscreen whenever we go outside, even on cloudy days.
It’s true that UVB rays are strongest during peak hours and UV ratings are highest from 10am to 4pm, but UV rays are present even on cloudy days, so sunscreen should be used whenever you’re outside (check out the daily UV index in your area on the EPA website). If you’re in and out all day, try a lighter-feel sunscreen Avene Mineral Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 or CosMedix Reflect Broad Spectrum SPF50 Spray for non-greasy, lightweight daily coverage.
Sunscreen facts and fictions: What you need to know about protecting your skin
A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association is raising concerns about the ingredients in sunscreen. Researchers analyzed blood samples of 24 people who used sunscreen four times a day, for four days, and found levels of four chemical ingredients that exceed the FDA's recommended limits.
The authors of the study caution that the health effects, if any, are unknown, and say people should continue to apply sunscreen to protect against skin cancer. Dr. Tara Narula agrees. She joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss more about what the report found and to separate sunscreen fact from fiction as part of our continuing coverage of skin cancer awareness month.
“Unfortunately, there is a real lack of great data around some of the safety issues concerning sunscreen. They have not been subject to the type of standard drug safety testing we do,” Narula said. “Why is that? Well, sunscreen was originally FDA approved back in the 1970s as an over-the-counter drug. But it was really meant to be used to prevent sunburn.”
These days many people use sunscreen every day, which means there can be “systemic absorption.” What we need now is more research.
“So the questions have been raised about what kinds of effects might this have on our endocrine system, our reproductive system, developmental, and any risk for cancer. So this study that you mentioned did show absorption, but it does not mean it is unsafe. It means we need further safety testing,” she said.
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is expected to kill more than 7,200 Americans this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. The number of cases has been growing for the past decade, with more than 96,000 new cases expected in 2019, in part because people aren't using enough sunscreen and still going to tanning beds.
Narula broke down some of the facts and fictions about sunscreen:
Fact or fiction? If your sunscreen has a high SPF, you only need to apply it once.
Fiction: “The SPF tells you how protected you are from the UVB rays. So for example, SPF 15 protects you against 93 percent of UVB rays. SPF 30 against 97 percent. You still need to reapply every two hours.
Important things you want to know are to get an SPF 30 or greater, a sunscreen that's water resistant and one that's broad spectrum. You want to apply the right amount. So by the right amount we mean an ounce, a shot glass full, of sunscreen to your body and also a teaspoon full to your face and neck.
You want to make sure you hit areas that sometimes people forget your hands, your feet, your neck, your ears.”
Fact or fiction? The higher the SPF, the better.
Not exactly: “The difference between SPF 30 and 50, is 97 percent UVB ray protection versus 98 percent.”
Fact or fiction? You don't need sunscreen when under a beach umbrella.
Fiction: “You do. So the sun umbrella gives you some protection but not complete protection.”
Fact or fiction? Sunlight is the best way to get vitamin B.
Fiction: “You can get it through food – salmon, mackerel, through supplements, through fortified milk, cheese.”
Dermatologists Can Help Separate Fact From Fiction for Sun Exposure, Sunscreen and Vitamin D
When it comes to vitamin D, consumers are bombarded with mixed messages about the best source for this essential nutrient.
While some may argue that small doses of intentional sun exposure are safe, dermatologists point out that the risk of developing skin cancer from ultraviolet (UV) radiation far outweighs the benefit of stimulating vitamin D production – particularly when enriched foods and supplements are safe and effective sources of this vitamin.
Speaking at the American Academy of Dermatology’s SKIN academy (Academy), Washington, D.C., dermatologist Elizabeth L. Tanzi, MD, FAAD, clinical faculty in the department of dermatology at Johns Hopkins Hospital Center in Baltimore, addressed common myths about sun exposure, sunscreen and vitamin D, and announced the Academy’s increased recommendation on the minimum Sun Protection.
Factor (SPF) of sunscreen
“Despite years of ongoing public education efforts on the dangers of UV radiation, a number of misconceptions remain as to how to best protect ourselves from this known carcinogen and whether or not we absolutely need sun exposure for vitamin D production,” said Dr. Tanzi. “The fact is these myths are harmful because sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer, and the consequences of this misinformation could be potentially fatal.”
Myth: Sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is vital for strong bones and a healthy immune system. Deficiency of vitamin D is associated with bone softening in adults, rickets in children and, more recently, with high blood pressure, arthritis, type I diabetes and certain cancers.
While UV radiation is one source of vitamin D, dermatologists argue that it is not the best source because the benefits of obtaining vitamin D through UV exposure cannot be separated from an increased risk of skin cancer.
Instead, the Academy recommends that an adequate amount of vitamin D should be obtained from a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D (e.g., dairy products and fish), foods/beverages fortified with vitamin D (e.g.
, fortified milk and fortified cereals), and/or vitamin D supplements.
“Although studies showing the benefits of increased vitamin D intake have caused some to propose ‘sensible sun exposure’ or intentional sun exposure as a cost-effective method for preventing vitamin D deficiency, increased sun exposure is not the answer,” said Dr. Tanzi.
“UV radiation is the most preventable risk factor for the development of skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in this country. There are more than an estimated 1 million new cases of skin cancer every year.
Despite this fact, there remains a tremendous amount of misinformation about UV exposure – especially in relation to vitamin D.”
Myth: All sunscreens are created equal
While on the surface most sunscreens may look the same, they are in fact quite different. One of the things that makes sunscreens different is the level of protection from UV exposure that they provide. Dr.
Tanzi explained that a common misconception is that the SPF rates the degree of protection from both UVA rays (which pass through window glass, penetrate into the deepest layer of the skin and are associated with premature aging and melanoma) and UVB rays (the sun’s burning rays, which are blocked by window glass, are the primary cause of sunburn, and also are linked with skin cancer). In fact, the SPF number on sunscreens only reflects the product’s ability to deflect the sun’s burning rays (or UVB). Sunscreens labeled broad-spectrum provide coverage against both UVA and UVB light.
“SPF may create a false sense of security about the level of protection a person is getting, because many sunscreens do not adequately protect against harmful UVA rays,” said Dr. Tanzi. “The main challenge in providing effective protection from UVA rays is that traditional chemicals used in sunscreens that absorb UVA light degrade quickly and become ineffective.”
Fortunately, there are ingredients that can be added to traditional sunscreen ingredients to keep them stable and provide broad-spectrum protection. For example, Dr.
Tanzi noted that the ingredient oxybenzone can help stabilize avobenzone (one of the best absorbers of UVA rays that, while highly effective, breaks down quickly), which provides a longer duration of effective protection from UVA rays.
Other effective ingredients that help provide broad-spectrum UV coverage include ecamsule, cinoxate, menthyl anthranilate, octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate, and sulisobenzone.
For those with sensitive skin, sunscreens with non-chemical ingredients work best and will prevent irritation. Dr. Tanzi said the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide both UVA and UVB protection.
Myth: Using a higher SPF will ensure you don’t burn
Dr. Tanzi explained that those who use sunscreen with a higher SPF may think they will not burn when exposed to UV light, but she said that is not true.
In fact, actual sunscreen protection depends on many other factors – including skin type, the amount and frequency of sunscreen application, and the impact of activities (such as swimming and sweating).
As a result, sunburn can occur even when wearing a higher SPF sunscreen.
Another important factor Dr. Tanzi emphasized is that UVB protection does not increase proportionately with a designated SPF number.
For example, an SPF of 30 screens 97 percent of UVB rays, while an SPF of 15 screens 93 percent of UVB rays and an SPF of 2 screens out 50 percent of UVB rays.
However, not applying enough sunscreen or not covering all exposed areas may result in a lower SPF than the product contains.
“For adequate protection, sunscreens are best applied 15-30 minutes prior to going outside, approximately every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating,” said Dr. Tanzi.
“Research demonstrates that most people only apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen, which is one ounce for the entire body or enough to fill a shot glass.
Therefore, if only half the proper amount of SPF 15 is applied, the SPF has been reduced to an SPF of approximately 5, which is then inadequate protection. ”
To address the issue of people not using enough sunscreen or reapplying improperly, theAcademy recently increased its recommended SPF to a minimum of 30 for proper sun protection. Dr.
Tanzi said that while sunscreen is important to protect against skin cancer, it is only one part of what should be an overall sun-protection program.
To minimize your risk of skin cancer, the Academy recommends that everyone Be Sun Smart:
- Generously apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.
- Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Protect children from sun exposure by playing in the shade, using protective clothing, and applying sunscreen.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look you’ve been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
- Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
For more information about skin cancer, please visit the “SkinCancerNet” section of www.skincarephysicians.com, a Web site developed by dermatologists that provides patients with up-to-date information on the treatment and management of disorders of the skin, hair and nails.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology
Don’t be Duped by These 5 Skincare Myths
If you’ve been paying attention to current beauty and health trends, you know we’re amid a skincare revolution. More brands, products, and tools are available to help you maintain your skin health than ever before.
Don’t chalk this trend up to mere vanity, though—taking good care of your skin is about more than just wanting to stay youthful-looking.
As your body’s largest organ, the skin also plays a vital role in regulating body temperature, manufacturing vitamin D, and acting as your first line of defense against harmful germs.
It only makes sense that you’d want to take the best possible care of it.
But sometimes you sabotage yourself with your best intentions. Believing some common skincare myths can cause (or worsen) the very skin problems you’re trying to correct or avoid. Learn fact from fiction as we bust five widely believed skincare fallacies and offer tips to making skin-friendly choices.
Myth 1: There is one right kind of skincare regimen
Sure, most of the generic cleansers you can find at any supermarket or drugstore will remove dirt and oil from your skin. And any moisturizer will provide some boost in hydration. But to really see positive results and make your skin its happiest, you need to give it exactly what it needs.
The first step in adopting a bespoke (read: personalized) skincare regimen is to understand your skin type. Small pores with rough, flaky patches? You probably have dry skin. If you tend to get blackheads and need a blotting tissue every afternoon, you’re ly on the oily side of the spectrum.
Or, you could be a combination of both if you see midday shine in your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) but are scaly around your cheeks. If you tend to be easily irritated, you could have sensitive skin. If you’re still unsure what category you fall into, take this skin type quiz to find out.
Whatever your skin type, choose a regimen that supports the health of your all-important skin barrier to help you look and feel your best.
The protective outer layer of skin contains a lipid or moisture barrier that protects you from your environment and keeps natural moisture in. When your skin barrier is performing at its best, your skin looks firm and plump.
It also has a natural dewy glow. Keeping your moisture barrier healthy is important to get the results you want to see in the mirror.
A bespoke skincare regimen can be as simple as cleansing and moisturizing or as robust as the Korean 13-step routine. However many steps you choose, make sure each product in your regimen is geared toward your skin type. In general, the following are common staple products of a skincare regimen:
- Cleanser: Look for a mild cleanser to use morning and night. If you wear makeup, it’s best to remove it in a separate step prior to washing—called the two-step cleaning process.
- Toner: It’s not just an important step only for those with combination or oily skin. Toning can also help moisturize dry skin. This category has boomed in recent years, and you can find toners that include a wide variety of ingredients, from rose water to kombucha. Toning right after cleansing helps lock in your natural hydration and prepares your skin for moisturizing, but this is the most optional step.
- Serum: Also known as an essence or ampoule, serums may contain a broad range of ingredients—including plant extracts, oils and nutrients—that focus on types of skin concern. You only need a few drops, as these products are highly concentrated.
- Eye cream: While your skin is absorbing the serum, use your ring finger to gently tap the eye cream or gel of your choice into the skin surrounding the eye socket. Don’t swipe or rub in the product, as that can cause pulling in an area with thin, delicate skin.
- Moisturize: serums, moisturizers are also often tailored to your skin needs. For your daytime moisturizer, look for one with a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30, or apply a sunscreen separately after your moisturizer.
Myth 2: You only need skincare for your face
That skin barrier we discussed above? It covers and protects the skin all over your body. That means the rest of it needs just as much care and attention as the skin on your face.
To baby the delicate skin you’re in and pamper those often-neglected body parts:
- Take cooler, shorter showers. Prolonged exposure to heat can cause damage to your moisture barrier, which can lead to dryness, redness, and irritation.
- Pat, don’t rub, yourself dry with a towel. Excessive rubbing can tug at your skin, which can cause immediate irritation and a loss of elasticity in the skin over time.
- Moisturize daily, at minimum, to lock in the hydration your moisture barrier needs. Use a quality body lotion after showering, and use a facial moisturizer after cleansing both day and night.
- Gently exfoliate all over once to twice a week, especially concentrating on the rougher spots elbows, knees, ankles, and heels. Use a loofah with a creamy, hydrating body wash or a moisturizing sugar scrub.
- Stay hydrated. Drink the daily recommended 64 ounces of hydrating beverages such as unsweetened teas, coconut water, almond milk, and, of course, water. Dry skin can be an early sign that you’re dehydrated.
- Avoid harsh, drying soaps, facial cleansers, and body washes. Read the product labels and steer clear from those with moisture-sapping sulfates or harsh alcohols.
- Apply sunscreen every day. Protection from the sun’s harmful rays aren’t just for beach days and summer months. The sun can break down your skin’s moisture barrier year-round. See more on this topic below.
- Bring the skincare products you use on your face all the way down to the neck. It needs a similar amount of attention as your face, but the skin on the neck is even thinner.
- Use hand cream, especially with SPF, to keep the age spots at bay. Even if you lie about your age, your hands could betray you.
- Don’t forget your feet! Get rid of calluses by using a pumice stone in the shower. For extra overnight hydration, slather your feet with lotion and wear cotton socks to bed.
Myth 3: The higher the SPF, the better the protection
It seems the logic should be simple: the higher the SPF number in a sunscreen product, the better it protects against the sun’s harmful rays. The reality, however, is a bit more complicated.
Even though both UVA and UVB rays can damage the skin, SPF typically only measures the amount a product protects against UVB rays—the rays that cause the worst sunburns. If you used certain high-SPF sunscreens, you might not see skin redness or get a sunburn, but that doesn’t mean your skin hasn’t received a high dose of damaging UVA radiation.
Even the SPF numbers themselves can be deceiving. Most people believe that SPF 30 provides double the sun protection that SPF 15 does. In actuality, SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, while an SPF 30 product blocks 97 percent.
Further complicating matters, SPF is tested by applying two milligrams of sunscreen to one square centimeter of skin. Most people apply half— or less —that amount. If you skimp on applying sunscreen, you could be much less protected than you assume.
So what’s the sweet spot? Look for an SPF between 30 and 50 that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. This will often appear on product labels as “broad spectrum,” “multi spectrum,” or “UVA/UVB spectrum.”
For optimal sun protection, apply more sunscreen than you think you need. Be sure to reapply when exposed to direct sun for more than two hours or if you’ve been in the water or exercising. Also take other sun-avoiding measures seeking shade, wearing loose, light-colored protective clothing, a hat, and limiting time spent in the sun.
Myth 4: Beauty sleep is real only in fairy tales
Sleeping in until noon on Saturdays will not erase your crow’s feet or banish your smile lines. But a growing amount of research suggests consistently getting a good night’s sleep will do wonders for your skin long term. And, conversely, getting poor rest can have highly damaging effects on the skin.
A study of British women showed pretty conclusive results. All saw an increase of wrinkles, dark circles, and overall dull complexion after five consecutive days of getting only six hours of sleep per night—compared to after getting a night of eight hours of sleep.
The immediate effects of a rough night can be obvious in the form of dark circles under puffy eyes. But the damage sleep deprivation can cause the rest of your skin goes much further.
During sleep, your body goes into repair mode. It gets busy eliminating old, dead cells, making new ones, and cleaning your body of toxins.
When you shortchange yourself of a full night’s sleep, you’re missing out on hours of collagen production, which can lead to your skin sagging and looking older sooner.
You also won’t get the normal amount of blood flow to your face necessary to give you a healthy, rosy glow.
Lack of sleep also increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to breakouts. Imbalances in pH and loss of moisture are other common byproducts of sleep deprivation, and can wreak havoc on your complexion.
So go ahead and hit the sack a bit earlier to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep you need every night. And don’t forget the cardinal rule in skincare: never sleep without first removing your makeup.
Myth 5: Eating greasy foods will make you break out
You’ve probably heard this myth since you were a teenager: if you pig out on chocolate, French fries, or other junk foods, you’ll be promptly rewarded with an unsightly breakout.
The old logic was that because oily skin tends to be more prone to imperfections, eating greasy foods will worsen your skin’s oil problems.
In reality, oil in your diet doesn’t equate to higher production of sebum (your skin’s natural oil).
Don’t go throwing a parade through your nearest drive-thru just yet, though. What you eat still affects your skin. You are what you eat, and certain foods can trigger hormonal responses that may negatively affect how your skin looks.
This is especially true for those that have food sensitivities or allergies. Research has shown that there are some foods that could aggravate problem-prone skin.
If that describes you, try staying away from the foods and beverages listed below for a while to see if your skin troubles subside.
- Refined sugars and processed grains. Simple carbohydrates are known to cause spikes in insulin, which messes with the hormones responsible for skin-cell growth and sebum production. More cell turnover combined with more oil can be a recipe for skin disaster.
- Breakouts are typically connected to inflammation, and for people that have any level of sensitivity to it, dairy can really flare things up. While research is conflicted, milk, cream, and ice cream appear to have more negative impacts on the skin, while yogurt and hard cheeses tend to cause fewer issues.
- You’re not going to want to toast to this: alcohol is a nightmare for the skin. Not only is it hard on the liver—the organ responsible for detoxifying your body—but it also dehydrates the body and the skin. Most cocktail mixers come with hefty added doses of sugar, which will cause the dreaded insulin spikes. And in case you thought red wine was exempt because of its noted health benefits, for a lot of people it can cause flushing of the face. If you’re going to imbibe, try not to go overboard, and drink plenty of water. Your skin will thank you the next morning—and in the long run.
It turns out that some of the advice your mother and grandmother gave you about skincare aren’t backed by science or reality. The good news is this golden age of skincare provides more options than ever to make the best choices possible for your unique skin.