Misunderstanding Sun Protection

Posted by Terri Wojak on

Protecting our skin from the harmful effects of the sun is essential for maintaining healthy, youthful skin. Unfortunately, there are some misconceptions that leave many people without enough sun protection. It is our job as skin care providers to put a stop to these myths so clients have proper protection and get optimal results.

Sunscreen will prevent me from getting Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin needed by our body to carry out everyday functions including immune support, bone health, muscle function, calcium absorption, and more. Our skin synthesizes vitamin D though UVB exposure; and SPF 30 sunscreen blocks about 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. This can be a concern for clients, especially those that are low in vitamin D. Research shows that normal use of sunscreen does not result in vitamin D deficiency. Not only do most people not apply enough sunscreen to stop the body from producing vitamin D, but we only need about 10-30 minutes of sun exposure to create enough of it. If someone is truly concerned with their vitamin D levels, they should have their doctor do a simple blood test and discuss the use of a vitamin D supplement. Clients can also consider incorporating more vitamin D-rich foods (like salmon, cheese and fortified milk) into their diet.

Sunscreen is bad for you

Several chemical sunscreens contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, ingredients that some studies suggest are endocrine disruptors. However, there are no studies that prove that these ingredients lead to any harmful effects. In fact, the American Cancer Society released a statement saying it “encourages the use of FDA-approved sunscreens,” which includes those with oxybenzone and octinoxate. Another concern with chemical sunscreens is they can be irritating to sensitive skin. For consumers who are concerned, they can choose a sunscreen that does not contain chemical filters, such as a physical sunscreen containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Overall, the most important thing is that our clients wear sunscreen, whether they prefer a chemical or physical.

It’s good to get a base tan before vacation

Most people are aware that there is a risk of sunburn when going to warmer climates where the sun’s rays are much stronger.  There is a big misconception that by getting a “base tan,” they’ll be provided sun protection on their vacation. This is simply not true. According to the U.S. Surgeon General and proven by many clinical studies, a base tan only provides an SPF of 3 or less. This is essentially meaningless in terms of sun protection. The best thing the client can do is apply SPF 30 or higher every two hours.

Makeup with SPF is Enough  

Many people believe that using makeup products that contain SPF is sufficient to protect their skin from the sun. While makeup with SPF offers some level of protection, it is often not enough to provide adequate coverage.  To ensure effective sun protection, it is recommended to use a separate sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection before applying makeup.  

It is well known that sunscreen use prevents skin cancer and slows the appearance of aged skin. The use of antioxidants with sunscreens should also be a priority; although sunscreens protect from UV exposure, damaging free radicals can still be created. You should also suggest the client protect all areas of the body, including the scalp. Clarifying misconceptions about sun protection is crucial for ensuring the long-term health of our clients’ skin. Remember, when using sunscreen, the benefits will always outweigh the risks!






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