Sun creams: what is the right way to spread them? Myths and truths

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Carlos Laforet Coll

How to spread sunscreen correctly, with tips and myths to dispel

Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous

How to apply sunscreen? You will say nothing simpler, not considering that the one you are about to get smeared with is not just any cream but it is the protection that will act as a "shield" for the next few hours of exposure to the sun. Do you need a manual for sunscreen, then? Not really, but it is good to point out certain rules and dispel certain legends.

Consumer Report Consumer Report, a well-known newspaper of one of the main American consumer associations, tries to clarify how and when to sprinkle a sunscreen on the body and the many myths that revolve around it.

Exactly like using dental floss, for example, the way and times in which it is spread can also make a difference, to the benefit of the skin, against stains and possible tumors. In short, the key is not only to put on the sunscreen but to spread it correctly.

Here are some truths but also false myths about sun creams and their correct application.


If I put on sunscreen in the morning, I am protected all day

False: Unlike some deodorants or allergy medications that provide around-the-clock protection, there is no long-lasting sunscreen. Once on the skin, the sunscreen begins to wear out and after a couple of hours it becomes less effective, so experts recommend reapplying the cream every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or sweating a lot.

A tube of about 200ml of sunscreen is not enough for a week-long vacation

True: When you are at the beach or in the pool and most of your skin is exposed, the guidelines require the use of one or two grams of sunscreen (as much as a golf ball) per application. And since it should be reapplied every 2 hours or immediately after swimming, you consume plenty of ml ... When you're not in a bathing suit, still remember to protect your face, neck, ears and arms.

I don't need sunscreen on cloudy days

False: the UV rays of the sun still reach the skin even when it is cloudy, so the cream should be used even if there is no direct sun.

A sunscreen with a high SPF protects the skin longer

False: Regardless of the SPF, all sunscreens lose their effectiveness over time and it is true that you need to apply them a lot and often. The SPF suitable for each person depends on the phototype, indicatively a cream with SPF 15 absorbs 92% of UVB radiation and a cream with SPF 40 absorbs 97.5%.

I need a hat even if I am using sunscreen

TrueEven the best sunscreen applied correctly cannot provide 100% UV protection, so experts recommend wearing protective clothing and a brimmed hat as well.

There are no cases of skin cancer in my family, so I don't have to worry

False: A genetic predisposition to skin cancer is only one piece of the puzzle and regardless of the fact that there have been no cases of skin cancer in the family, it is essential to protect the skin anyway. According to AAD estimates, avoiding UV exposure could prevent more than 3 million cases of skin cancer each year.

I need sunscreen during all hours of daylight

True: UVB rays (the most harmful) are strongest from 10 to 16, but it is good to keep in mind that the intensity of solar radiation also increases with the season (in summer in our hemisphere); with altitude (+ 4% every 300 meters); with latitude (in countries close to the equator) and in the vicinity of reflective surfaces (lake, sea, snow). In any case, it is good to protect yourself at all times.

One gets less tanned by using a sunscreen

absolutely false! You will tan more slowly and gradually, but you will still get a nice tan that will last even longer, limiting skin damage related to sun exposure.

Read also:

  • Sun creams: 12 false beliefs and myths to dispel
  • Sunscreens: Are SPFs higher than 50SFP useful and more effective?
  • Sun creams: can they still be used after a year?
  • Sun creams: 10 things you (maybe) don't know about tanning products
  • Sunscreens for children: 10 sunscreens with a good INCI and 10 products to avoid

Germana Carillo

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