Sun protection: myths and facts

Table of contents:

Sun protection: myths and facts
Sun protection: myths and facts

Let's review some myths and perceptions about the sun and sun protection to take better action.


The numerous advice, information and warnings about the sun over the past few years are a source of confusion and misinformation.

Sunscreen sprays are not as effective as creams and lotions

False. Sunscreens are effective in cream, lotion, spray, gel or stick form as long as they are applied correctly according to the instructions given on the packaging. For all types of sunscreens, reapply every two hours.

The higher the FPS, the better the protection

False. The SPF (sun protection factor) is calculated on a curve and not a straight line. For example, an SPF of 2 provides protection against approximately 50% of UV rays, an SPF of 15 provides protection against approximately 93%, and an SPF of 30 provides protection against approximately 97%.

Some sunscreens with a very high SPF (SPF 60 for example) are more appropriate in certain specific cases, such as hyperpigmentation problems or hypersensitivity to the sun.

It is important to know that SPF does not measure the degree of protection against UVA rays; thus, asunscreen with a higher SPF does not necessarily offer increased protection against UVA exposure.

Sunscreens completely block vitamin D

False. Sunscreens do not block the absorption of vitamin D, but they do block the UV rays that allow the body to produce it. Moreover, a brief exposure to the sun is enough to produce the amount of vitamin D necessary for our body, the risks incurred by exposing yourself to the sun without protection being then totally unjustified.

The most expensive sunscreens are the best

False. Like many things in life, when you buy sunscreen, you mostly pay for the expensive packaging. Sunscreens of all price points that meet the requirements set by the Canadian Dermatology Association are effective in preventing sun damage if used correctly. As long as you protect yourself against UVA and UVB rays, you can choose the brand that you like and that you will use regularly.

Tanning beds give you a “tan bottom” that will protect you and prepare you for your stay in the South

False. Tanning represents damage to the skin, and tanning beds are not regulated under the Food and Drugs Act; thus, there is no way to check the intensity of the UV rays to which you are exposed. The best sun protectionintense in warmer climates is to use high SPF sunscreen as soon as you step off the plane, reapply your sunscreen frequently, and limit the amount of time you are exposed to direct sunlight.

People with dark skin do not need sunscreen

False. Whatever the skin type, daily protection against the sun must become a habit. Additionally, some African Canadians have issues with mottled pigmentation; sunscreen is therefore important during treatment to even out skin tone.

Sunscreen can cause cancer

False. Sunscreens are not carcinogenic. Using sunscreen with an SPF of less than 15 may allow you to stay in the sun longer without burning, but it won't protect you against all UV exposure. Make sure you always wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 and look for “UVA and UVB protection” on the bottle.

In Canada, you don't need sunscreen in the winter

False. The presence of UV rays has nothing to do with temperature, and UV rays are present all year round. In addition, the effect of the rays can be intensified by the reflection on the snow.

You don't need sunscreen when the weather is gray and cloudy

False. Although UV rays are less harmful on cloudy days, they are still present. One of the most common causes of sunburn ismakes the sun appear suddenly, when you least expect it. Even though clouds can make you feel cool, ultraviolet radiation is not related to temperature and can still be very high. Protecting yourself from the sun should be a daily habit, regardless of the weather.

In the car or near a window, you are protected from the sun's rays

False. Glass reduces the transmission of UVB rays, but some UVA rays pass through and their effect can be cumulative over the years.

Using SPF 15 moisturizer and SPF 15 foundation gives SPF 30 protection

False. FPS effects are not cumulative. You will only have the protection of the highest SPF product you have used.


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