Truth About Sunscreen
The Truth About Sunscreen: Separating Myths from Facts
March 22, 2024
Posted by admin

Sunscreen should be an integral component of anyone’s skincare routine. It protects our skin from sun-induced aging, pigmentation, and skin cancer. Dermatologists and skin cancer surgeons in Singapore unanimously agree that investing in a good quality sunscreen is worth every penny.

Despite years of public education on sun awareness and the importance of using sunscreens, there are still many misconceptions about the right way sunscreens should be applied. The situation is not helped by conflicting information one can find on the internet. In this article, we dive into some of the most common myths surrounding sunscreen use and uncover the truth behind them.

 

Myth #1: Sunscreen is only necessary when the weather is sunny.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation can penetrate clouds and cause skin damage even when the weather doesn’t feel “sunny”. In temperate climates, a lower temperature may give you a false sense of security, when actually UV is still reaching the surface of the earth. UV may also bounce off the ground and surfaces of buildings to reach our skin.

 

Myth #2: The higher the SPF in a sunscreen, the better

While there is no harm in choosing the highest SPF for one’s sunscreen, a sunscreen of SPF 50 only adds another 1% of protection compared to one with SPF 30. Rather than looking at SPF alone, one should make sure one’s sunscreen protects against UVA as well as UVB. While the protection effect against UVB is labelled using standardized SPF, different countries label UVA protection differently. In the United States, the sunscreen may simply state it is “broad spectrum”. In the European Union, sunscreens may have the letters “UVA” in a circle. The Boots Star Rating, where sunscreens with UVA protection get between 0 to 5 stars, is commonly seen in the UK. In Asia, one is more likely to see the PA+ rating (ranging from 1+ to 4+). Recent research also found that high energy visible light (the blue and purple spectrum of visible light) can also cause pigmentation and photo-aging of the skin. So a complete sunscreen should protection against this as well.

 

Myth #3: I don’t get enough Vitamin D if I use sunscreen all the time.

Most people will get enough Vitamin D from few minutes of sun exposure when they go about their usual activities every day, so it is not necessary to expose oneself to sunlight on purpose to get Vitamin D. Even the best sunscreens will let in around 2-3% of UV radiation, enough for the skin to generate sufficient Vitamin D. Add to the fact that most people don’t actually apply enough sunscreen, there is little need to worry about Vitamin D deficiency from lack of sun exposure.

 

Myth #4: It is only necessary to apply sunscreen on the face

It is true that the face gets a higher dose of sunlight than many other parts of the body and is the site of greater sun-damage and risk of skin cancer. However, sun-damage and skin cancer are also common in other exposed areas, such as the outer sides of our forearms, the back of our hands, and (especially for ladies) the legs below the knees. Unless one is always covering these areas with clothing, it is important to also apply sunscreen to these areas.

 

Myth #5: People with darker skin tones do not need sunscreen

While it is true that people with fairer complexion are at higher risk of skin cancer, skin cancer does not totally spare people with darker tones. In fact, when skin cancer does arise in people with darker complexion, they are often more advanced, possibly a result of later detection. Darker skin tones are also more prone to pigmentation induced by UV and high energy visible light (HEVL), so sunscreen is still recommended.

 

Conclusion

Protection from the sun’s UV rays is the most important element to keeping a youthful and radiant complexion. The correct application of an appropriate sunscreen will help to fend off wrinkles, pigmentation and even skin cancer.

If you are currently experiencing issues like wrinkles or hyperpigmentation due to inconsistent sunscreen use, TSN Dermatology stands ready to assist. Our team comprises highly knowledgeable and experienced dermatologists in Singapore, capable of effectively addressing a range of skin concerns, including acne, scars, eczema, psoriasis, and even skin cancer. For further information on our exceptional services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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