Sunscreen Myth #1: I can skip it.
Maybe you think you can pass on sunscreen because you don't bask in the sun. But sunscreen is not just for sun worshippers. "If you're going to be outdoors," Stein says, "you should wear sunscreen. Even when it's cloudy outside, you can still get sunburn through cloud cover."
Sunscreen Myth #2: The SPF in my makeup is enough.
Some women may rely on sunscreen in their makeup. But you might need more than that. "If you use foundation, a few spots of sunscreen on your face isn't going to be enough out in the sun," Stein says. "You should wear at least an SPF of 30. The easiest approach is to use a facial moisturizer that already has sunscreen in it."
Sunscreen Myth #3: All sunscreens are the same.
Not so. Sunscreens can differ in the way they protect your skin. Some use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to filter out UVA and UVB rays. Others use chemicals such as avobenzone to do the job.
Sunscreen Myth #4: A little sunscreen will see me through the day.
"The general principle is to reapply every two to four hours," Spencer says. "Sunscreen does go away with time." If you get into the water, you may need to reapply more often. You may also want to check on whether your prescriptions make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Certain blood pressure medications can make your skin more sensitive to the sun and so can some antibiotics, such as doxycycline, which is an oral antibiotic used to treat acne. Be sure to talk to your doctor about this," Stein says.
Sunscreen Myth #5: I put sunscreen on my face, arms, leg, back, and neck -- so I'm set.
Not so fast. You may have overlooked some key areas.
Myth #6: “I have dark skin, so I don’t need to worry.”
“This is just profoundly, radically false,” says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a Boston dermatologist and past president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. Many people with more pigment in their skin will have a lower skin cancer risk, says Rigel, but they’re not immune. One CDC paper found that up to 30 percent of darker-skinned ethnic groups reported at least one sunburn in the previous year. “Unfortunately, skin cancer is frequently diagnosed later in people of color—perhaps because of the misconception that they are not at risk—so it’s often progressed to a later stage and is more difficult to treat,” says Wu. Singer Bob Marley, for example, died of melanoma on his toe that was misdiagnosed as a soccer injury. Furthermore, skin color isn’t as simple as it sounds, because people are more heterogeneous than you think, explains Hirsch. So even if you have a dark complexion, you could have genes that make you more susceptible to skin cancer.
Sunscreen Myth #7: Last year's bottle is still OK.
"You should use enough so that you're not using the same bottle summer after summer. If you're doing it right, you're not going to have leftovers next year," Stein says.
Check the expiration date on your sunscreen bottle.
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WebMD Feature Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on November 14, 2012 Sources © 2010 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.