Busting Sunscreen Myths

Health & Wellness HitList Lifestyle
By: Mike Dunn | Teresa Strasser Posted: 8:15 PM, May 11, 2022 Updated: 9:37 AM, May 12, 2022

According to the CDC, only 14% of men and 30% of women in the US regularly use sunscreen. Sunscreen is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of skin cancer – but it must be used the right way. Teresa Strasser spoke to board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Pablo Prichard to help bust some sunscreen myths.

Myth #1: Higher SPF is always better

No! SPF 30 shields you from about 97% of UV rays. “You get an SPF of 50-60, sounds like it’s twice as good,” says Prichard. “But it’s shielding you from about 98% of UV rays.” SPF (sun protection factor) is the percentage that sunscreen protects you from UVB rays – which are the ones that burn. Dr. Prichard says to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect against UVB and UVA rays. “UVA rays,” he says, “think of the A as aging.”

Myth #2: A little dab will do ya

“The way sunblock works is just like the way other medications work. If you take the appropriate dose, then you get the effect,” he says. Think of a shot glass, filled to the brim. That’s your ‘dose’. Which is about twice what people think they’re getting. And if you’re sweaty and go into the water? “You still need to reapply when you get out.”

Myth #3: Sunscreen Doesn’t Expire

They sure do. Most sunscreens last one to three years. Dusting off last summer’s sunscreen might sound like a good idea – but Dr. Prichard advises otherwise. “Some of the chemicals will degrade and the derivative is actually carcinogenic.” Yikes.