Before you scoff, know this: protecting your skin against the sun every day isn't as simple as smoothing on an SPF 30+ BB cream. In fact, the SPF in most make-up is rendered obsolete, unless you apply more than a teaspoon (and that's a lot of product). Read on for the seven commonly held, but dangerously incorrect, sunscreen myths we wish someone had told us sooner.
MYTH 1: The SPF in your make-up or moisturiser is enough for day to day
"Some cosmetic products containing sunscreen will not provide the skin with the same level of protection against UV radiation as a primary sunscreen," says Vanessa Rock, Prevention Manager and Skin Cancer Prevention Manager, Cancer Council NSW. "The equivalent of one teaspoon of sunscreen should be applied to the face, neck, and ears for good protection. While people can aim to apply enough moisturiser and body lotion to get the full value of the stated SPF, this can be very difficult to do with a product such as foundation." Of course, some protection is better than none, so keep choosing make-up that offers SPF.
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MYTH 2: Apply once in the morning and you're set for the day
Even if you're not going swimming or working up a sweat, sunscreen wears off after just two hours - and worse, it rubs off easily. "Sunscreen needs to be re-applied every two hours. Every time you wipe your face or blow your nose you are removing product but most people don't top up their moisturiser during the day," says Rock. We know, we know - who's going to take all their make-up off and start from scratch at lunchtime? That's why we love the mineral sunscreen brush from Colorescience - simply dust liberally before you head outside.
MYTH 3: All sunscreens are created equal
They're not. "Effective sunscreen needs to have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30+ or higher and be broad spectrum to protect against UVA and UVB rays," Rock says. "Many cosmetic products have a high SPF rating to protect against burning UVB rays but may not be broad spectrum and offer no protection against UVA radiation." So you're still at risk of cancer - and sun-induced wrinkles. No thanks.
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MYTH 4: Natural sunscreens are just as effective, minus the chemical nasties
"Care should be taken if using a product that claims to be completely 'natural' or 'chemical free'," Rock cautions. "These products can often be purchased over the internet but may not have been tested or approved by a regulatory body for safety and efficacy and may also provide very limited protection against UV radiation." Always check that the product complies with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 2604:2012 and has an AUSTL number on the label.
MYTH 5: Sunscreens make you break out
Just because you react to some sunscreens, doesn't mean you will to all. Test until you find one that works for your skin tone - and it goes without saying, but always opt for non-comedogenic (so it won't clog your pores) and oil free. We like the Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF 50+, which you can apply alone or mix with your make-up.
MYTH 6: Covering up your sunscreen with make-up reduces its efficacy
"Apply sunscreen first onto clean, dry skin, ensuring even and total coverage and allowing it to absorb properly," says Rock. "A number of sunscreens are available that are promoted as suitable for application under cosmetics." We love Actinica SPF 50+.
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MYTH 7: Wearing sunscreen every day reduces your vitamin D levels
In our sunburnt country? No chance. "Most people should get enough vitamin D by exposing about 15% of the body (hands and arms or lower legs) to sunlight for the recommended time periods on most days of the week," says Rock. In spring and summer, that's just 10 minutes mid-morning or mid-afternoon; in autumn, it's 15 minutes and in winter, it's 20-40 minutes depending on where you live - visit cancercouncil.com.au for more details. Still not convinced? The science speaks for itself: "Research indicates that people who use sunscreen regularly when UV levels are 3 and above, do not have lower vitamin D levels than people who do not use sunscreen," Rock says.