If you’re friends with any skincare or beauty experts, you may have heard them go on about the importance of wearing sunscreen.
But you’ve also heard about some of the potential downsides and harms associated with sunscreen.
So who should you believe? Is sunscreen bad for you?
Keep reading for a full breakdown of what the consensus on sunscreen is.
What Is Sunscreen?
So what is sunscreen, aside from a lotion your mom used to lather on you at the beach?
Sunscreen is a combination of different chemicals that prevent your skin from absorbing UV rays from the sun.
There are two types of UV rays that can cause damage. UVB is the one you commonly associate with sun damage, showing up in the form of sunburn. UVA rays are more insidious, causing your skin to age prematurely, while also increasing your chances of cancer.
Sunscreen either blocks or absorbs both rays to keep you safe.
Is Sunscreen Bad For You?
In one word: no! Sunscreen is not bad for you, and you should be wearing it every day.
There is no evidence to support the idea that the chemicals in sunscreen can be damaging.
In a few studies, some animals experienced minor inflammation after researches applied sunscreen. However, the amount applied was greater than the average user would ever use.
As sunscreen is applied topically in lower amounts, it won’t negatively affect your health.
So is sunscreen bad for you? No, and the benefits certainly outweigh any potential drawbacks.
Are There Any Bad Kinds of Sunscreen?
Is there any kind of sunscreen that is bad for you? Again, the short answer is: no.
As long as it is FDA approved, there are no bad kinds of sunscreens. Although they may go about doing it in different ways, all are working to protect your skin.
Sunscreens won’t damage you, but they can be damaging to different places in the environment. Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are two chemicals sometimes found in sunscreen and are believed to be damaging to coral reefs. Hawaii banned them to protect its reefs a few years back.
If you plan on swimming near any coral, make sure your sunscreen doesn’t contain those ingredients.
You should also make sure that if you’re using a spray sunscreen, you keep it away from your eyes. Also, make sure that you don’t breathe it in. Spraying it in your hands and then applying it to your face may be the safest option.
Why Is it Important?
So sunscreen is important, you now understand that. But why is it so important?
As mentioned, sunscreen helps protect you from the two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB. UVB rays show immediate results (in the form of red and painful sunburnt skin), while UVA damage can take years to become aware of.
You may not realize that years of sun damage are causing a patch of melanoma to develop, but by protecting yourself in the first place, you avoid that chance altogether. You’ll also be more wrinkle-free as you get older.
If you haven’t worn sunscreen for most of your life, it’s never too late to start. Take proactive steps to protect your body’s wellbeing.
By wearing it, you are protecting your skin, and also ensuring that you look younger longer. Who wouldn’t want that?
How Often Should I Wear It?
A simple conversation with a dermatologist is all it’ll take to know the answer to this question. You should be wearing sunscreen all the time.
When you were a child, perhaps it was something only worn for special occasions. A trip to the beach or a long day walking in the city was when your mom forced you to wear it.
But dermatologists and skin-care experts are right, you should be applying it all the time.
Even if’s cloudy or you stay indoors, UVA rays can still cause damage to your skin. Have you seen the photo of the truck driver with half his face damaged from the sun? When driving, his face was protected from UVB rays by the window. However, his skin still suffered 28 years of UVA damage.
Regardless of the season, weather, or time of day, make sure you’re wearing sunscreen.
When looking at sunscreens, you may notice that different bottles have different numbers on them. That number is the sun protection factor, or SPF. Generally, the higher the number, the more protection you’ll get.
Choosing a higher number SPF can be beneficial since you probably won’t apply the recommended amount. SPF tests are conducted by using large amounts of sunscreen, but when you apply it with your fingers and rub it in, you don’t use as much. An SPF 30 sunscreen might only be the equivalent of 20 after applying it.
However, after a certain point, the number doesn’t matter. SPF 100 is not twice as effective as SPF 50. Make sure that you’re reapplying it periodically throughout the day though.
Apply liberally to all exposed skin for complete coverage.
Alternative Forms of Protection
In addition to wearing sunscreen, what else can you do to protect yourself from the sun?
Make sure that if you have to be under the sun for a long period of time, you’re covering up. It can be tempting to strip down in the heat, but by covering your skin and wearing a hat, you’ll be better protected. You should also wear sunglasses.
Perhaps the best protection of all is to limit your time in the sun. Staying in the shade all the time isn’t realistic (you’re not a vampire), but you should be aware of how long you spend in the sun.
So, is sunscreen bad for you? Of course not!
Aside from keeping you from getting burned, it also helps you maintain a youthful look. And perhaps most importantly, it can help prevent sun damage and skin cancer.
Next time you’re out in the sun, make sure you’ve put on the sunscreen. Your skin will thank you later.
For more tips and guides, check out our other blog posts!