Sunscreen: Fact vs. Fiction

Tips for your Best Summer Skin

There are cream based and spray sunscreens, over-the-counter and professional options, and SPF from 15 all the way to 100. With hundreds of options for sun protection, which one is the best choice for your skin?

Below we sort out common skincare misconceptions to help you find the best products to keep your skin safe and healthy.

FICTION Everyone needs to use 100% sunblock. The FDA does not allow manufacturers to advertise products as sunblock. Nothing can block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen either absorbs or reflects the sun’s rays using chemical or physical ingredients. Look for ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone or zinc oxide to protect from UVA rays. Products formulated with octinoxate, octisalate, or titanium dioxide protect the skin from UVB rays.

TAKE AWAY: Don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help in making the correct sunscreen choice.

FACT Sun exposure causes 85% of all aging. The sun has the greatest impact on how our skin ages. Its ultraviolet rays fall into one of three categories: UVA, UVB and UVC.

• UVA rays cause you to age by breaking down the skin’s collagen and elastin, resulting in wrinkles and sagging. UVA can penetrate glass, so you aren’t safe in your car!

• UVB rays cause burning or tanning rays. In large doses, UVB can lead to melanoma and other types of skin cancer.

• UVC rays are absorbed by the ozone and never reach earth.

TAKE AWAY: Use a broad or full-spectrum sunscreen that filters or absorbs both UVA and UVB rays.

FICTION OTC sunscreen is just as good as professional sunscreen. Professional sunscreens purchased from a medical doctor or medical spa are formulated with higher purity ingredients and generally include anti-aging, hydrating, and skin-conditioning components. They come in several forms, including makeup with UVA and UVB blocking ingredients. Sunscreens purchased at a regular store also work and generally come as a spray or lotion.

• Recommended OTC: Aveeno sunscreen causes less skin irritation.

• Recommended Professional: Image Prevention+Daily Matte Moisturizer Oil Free SPF 32 and EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46.

TAKE AWAY: Different skin conditions work better with different sunscreens, especially if you have sensitive skin.

FACT SPF 30 is just as effective as SPF 45. SPF stands for sun protection factor. The number associated with SPF tells you what percentage of the sun’s rays are absorbed or reflected. An SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 96.7% of rays while an SPF 45 blocks 97.8%. The difference is insignificant. A sunscreen with a higher SPF also has a higher concentration of active ingredients which could lead to skin irritation.

TAKE AWAY: A higher SPF is not always better. Aim to apply SPF 30, 15 minutes before going outside and then reapply every two hours.

FICTION Darker skin doesn’t need sunscreen. Just like pale skin, darker skin has elastin and collagen that can be weakened by UVA rays. Dark skin also has an epidermis that can tan and burn. Everyone is at risk of sun damage. All skin tones need sun protection and are very susceptible to hyperpigmentation, or uneven skin tone. Sun exposure can cause this and any lightening treatments would be futile without sun protection.

TAKE AWAY: Every skin color and skin type needs protection from the sun.

Carla Morgan is a chemist turned licensed medical aesthetician. She also holds a graduate degree in professional counseling. Carla practices aesthetics and psychotherapy at Ashtoria Aesthetics and Wellness. To schedule an appointment call (901) 310-3530 or visit

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