6 Common Sunscreen Misconceptions

Sunscreen is probably the most imporant product to apply on our skin to protect it from all the damage and havoc the sun can cause, but it is also the most misunderstood one. There are lots of myths and misconceptions circulating around about sunscreen and not knowing right from false will prevent you from protecting your skin efficiently. Here are six common questions about sunscreen answered:

Is it ok to apply half the recommended amount of sunscreen?

No, it’s not. I know that the recommended amount of sunscreen (a teaspoon for the face, one ounce for the body) can seem a lot, but if you apply less, you won’t get the SPF protection stated on the bottle. What you’ll get is only minimal protection. According to Dr. Darrell S. Rigel, a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University, “if you apply half the amount, you get the protection of only the square root of the SPF”. That means that if you apply half the recommended amount of SPF 70, you’ll get the protection of SPF 8.4!

Can I mix sunscreen with a lotion?

We’ve already talked about this topic here, but for those that missed it, here’s the gist of it. Some sunscreens can be greasy or leave a white cast on the skin, so mixing them with your moisturizer can seem like a good idea to solve the problem and still get sun protection. But by doing so, you are diluting your sunscreen, decreasing its protection against the sun rays. If you’re using SPF 25 for example, by mixing it with your lotion, you can end up with SPF 10 or lower, there’s no way to know for sure. That means that you would have to apply at least twice as much to get sufficient protection against the sun, and that’s only if the active sunscreen ingredients haven’t been compromised by those in your lotion, making it ineffective!

Can I use only sunscreen and skip the moisturizer?

Well, this depends on what sunscreen you’re using and what your skin type is. Some sunscreens contain emollients (make skin soft and smooth and prevent moisture loss) and humectants (attract moisture from the environment and into the skin) that keep skin hydrated and moisturized and they can be used without moisturizers. This is especially true for people with oily skin that feel like wearing both products is too heavy for them and makes their skin shinier and greasier. If that’s you, you’d better use sunscreen and skip the moisturizer instead than the other way around. If, on the other hand, the sunscreen you’re wearing is not moisturizing enough for your skin, or your skin is very dry, then it’s best to use both products. To sum it up, listen to your skin and experiment with sunscreens (and with or without moisturizers) until you find the combination that works best for you.

If I use cosmetics with SPF can I skip the sunscreen?

I know I’ve already blogged about this too, but isn’t it good to have all the info in one place? ;) Basically, cosmetics with SPF offer very minimal sun protection. You would have to apply at least 14 layers of powder and 7 of foundation for your makeup to protect you against the sun rays and no one would do that. Your face would look all cakey and unnatural! Don’t rely on cosmetics alone and always apply sunscreen as well.

Can I use my child’s sunscreen?

Yes, you can. The active ingredients used to protect against the harmful some rays are the same in both children and adult sunscreens and so is the SPF number. If a sunscreen has SPF30, that’s the protection you’ll get, regardless of whether it is marketed for adults or kids. In a nutshell, sunscreens for kids and adults are the same, but companies try to convince us they are different to make us buy the same product twice. It’s just another marketing technique really. Dr. Neal Schultz, a cosmetic/medical dermatologist in NYC says: “To my knowledge there is no difference between sunscreens made for children and sunscreens made for adults and conversely children can use adult sunscreen.”

Can I make my own sunscreen at home?

You already know that I like making homemade beauty recipes and I’ve shared lots with you so far, but one thing you should never attempt to do at home is preparing your own sunscreen. Sunscreens are very difficult to make and they are very delicate products. By making them at home without the proper knowledge and experience, you’re risking using ingredients that don’t work well together, but make one another less effective, or use ingredients that make skin more sensitive to the sun or that are hard to spread and leave patches of skin unprotected. As far as sunscreen goes, it’s best to leave their formulation to the experts.

10 Comment

    • Dao, thank you, I’m glad you like it.

      And I agree with you about not making sunscreens at home. Sure, you can buy the ingredients and mix them, but unless you’re a cosmetic scientist or expert in the field, we don’t know the amount of ingredients we have to use, what other ingredients we shouldn’t put in the mix that would interfere with the sunscreen agents or how to make the formula easier to apply.

    • Xin, thanks. I thought now that summer’s approaching fast it’d be nice to remind people some facts about sunscreens and how best to use them. :)

    • Vonvon, sounds great! Can’t wait for your review. It’s a shame it’s expensive but broad-spectrum sunscreens are one of the very few items I don’t mind splurging on since they protect my skin from so much damage. :)

  1. That teaspoonful of sunscreen – does that cover the face, neck and chest areas or is it a teaspoonful for each of these areas…………. and should I pat the sunscreen around my eyes?

    Kindest Regards

    Marion

    • Marion, a teaspoon just for the face. I apply sunscreen around my eyes but not on the lid as I don’t think sunscreen is necessary there. Hope this helps.

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