5 sunscreen myths in the fact check: Is day cream with UV filter enough as sun protection?

Sunscreen: 5 myths in the fact check
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash, BATCH by Wisconsin Hemp Scientific

When the sun is really burning down from the sky, protection from the tube should actually be indispensable. Nevertheless, different claims about the effectiveness of sunscreen circulate year after year. Our fact check sheds light on the darkness of sunscreen myths.

Summer, sun, beach: the hot days lure us outside. And like every year, myths about sunscreen are booming. Does a high sun protection factor really provide better protection? Does a vegan diet help protect the skin? Does applying more sunscreen extend the sun protection? This fact check shows what is true – and what is not.

#1: Reapplying cream extends sun protection

This claim is false.

The facts: The Federal Office for Radiation Protection recommends applying sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before sunbathing. To ensure that the sunscreen’s protective effect is maintained, it is important to reapply it regularly: “At least every two hours and especially after bathing and drying off.” The prerequisite is that the sun protection actually lasts that long.

Reapplying sunscreen cannot extend the protection time in the sun, explains dermatologist Christoph Liebich from Munich. “If, for example, I apply a sun protection factor of ten and my own protection time is ten minutes, then it’s over after 100 minutes. Then it’s no use if I apply the factor ten or even the factor fifty again.” Then the radiation has already penetrated the skin and the protection time has expired. Nevertheless, reapplying sunscreen is a good idea in the cases mentioned in order to maintain the existing protection.

It is important to apply enough sunscreen from the start: According to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, the sun protection factor is two milligrams per square centimeter of skin. For an adult, this corresponds to about four heaped tablespoons of sunscreen for the whole body.

#2: Day cream is sufficient as light sun protection

This statement is true in some cases.

The facts: For a day cream to provide sun protection, it is crucial that it contains a UV filter. If this is not the case, there is obviously no sun protection, stresses Kerstin Effers, environmental and health protection officer at the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Center. The sun protection factor should be stated on the packaging. “Without this information, the protective effect for consumers cannot be assessed,” says Effers. Experts also recommend a high sun protection factor for day creams.

In addition, it is just as important to apply a sufficient amount of day cream as it is with sun cream. Dermatologist Liebich fears that some people put too little of expensive cream on their faces – after all, it is often a luxury product. “If you don’t apply the recommended amount, a low protection factor offers even less protection,” explains Liebich. Anyone who is hesitant to apply enough should opt for classic sun cream.

#3: Pre-tanning in the solarium protects the skin

This claim is false.

The facts: Anyone who lies in the sun or in a solarium is exposed to ultraviolet radiation. There are basically three types: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA radiation is the part of the radiation that penetrates into the dermis. UVB radiation, on the other hand, only reaches the epidermis. UVC rays are so short-wave that they are intercepted by the ozone layer.

The tanning bed only provides a “dirty tan” that does not provide any real protection, says dermatologist Liebich. The light used in tanning beds consists mainly of UVA rays, which provide a quick but not permanent tan. The UVB radiation is often filtered out. “To build up protection, we also need a UVB component, which is prohibited in tanning beds.”

Generally, pre-tanning in a solarium results in radiation exposure. It is not for nothing that solariums are prohibited for people under 18. “Any additional radiation is not good,” stresses Liebich.

#4: Vegan diet protects against sunburn

This claim is false.

The facts: A vegan diet sounds tempting to get a tan. But experts disagree. Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are found primarily in healthy foods, can provide natural protection for the skin – including against the sun – according to the Federal Association of German Pharmacists (Abda). However, this alone is not enough to protect the skin from sunburn when the UV index is high.

For example, vegetables and fruit are the most important sources of beta-carotene for humans. Those who eat a lot of them get “secondary plant pigments that simply provide additional protection for the skin against sunburn,” explains Liebich. However, the basis must always be a sunscreen, because diet alone does not provide a proper protection factor, says the dermatologist.

#5: Sunscreen can expire

The claim is true.

The facts: Sunscreen can also spoil. There are several reasons why you shouldn’t store creams and the like for too long. Firstly, the protection against UV light decreases. This can lead to sunburn in the short term and increase the risk of skin cancer in the long term. That’s why manufacturers state how many months a sunscreen should be used after opening. This is done using a small symbol with a number and an “M”. For example, “12M” means twelve months. A note with the opening date on the bottle can help.

In addition, many sunscreens produce benzophenone over time, which is potentially carcinogenic. This was discovered by researchers in a study for the American Chemical Society. Benzophenone is gradually produced from octocrylene. Many sunscreens contain this chemical because it protects against UVB rays. In the experiment, the researchers simulated the product aging for a year. What is striking about this and one more reason to throw away sunscreen from the previous year is that benzophenone can also form in unopened packaging.

Read more on Techzle\.com:

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