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Sunscreen myths busted!

We all use sunscreen to protect our skin from the searing sun. But are we doing it right? Let’s find out.

fashion and trends Updated: May 30, 2013 01:30 IST
Aditi Pant
Aditi Pant
Hindustan Times

The scorching heat brings with it the need to apply sunscreen to safeguard ourselves from getting burnt and tanned. But, many of us have preconceived notions about how to use sunscreen and many of those notions are, well, misplaced. So, here we break five common myths surrounding the use of sunscreen:

Myth 1: Sunscreen applied once is enough
Busted! “Sunscreen lotions should be applied every two hours. It needs to be re-applied because, due to sweat, it gets rubbed off. Also, make sure you apply a waterproof one while going to the beach,” says Dr Anoop Dhir, chief cosmetic surgeon, Apollo hospital. “The best sun protection is offered when you apply the cream after dividing its SPF level by half. For example: If SPF of the sunscreen lotion is 30, then divide it by 2 which is 15. So, if you’re exposed to the sun constantly, you should re-apply every 15 minutes,” says Dr DM Mahajan, dermatologist, Indraprastha Apollo hospital.

Myth 2: We need sun protection only when we are outside
Wrong again! “Even while inside, we are often exposed to florescent lights and these lights have ultra-violet rays. In fact, tanning can happen from any light. So you can apply a sun cream while inside the house too,” says Dr Dhir. “CFLs and fluorescent tubes are bad for the skin. In fact, only the old electrical bulbs, the yellow ones, are harmless,” says Dr Mahajan.

Myth 3: If it’s cloudy outside, I don’t need sunscreen
“You would need a sunscreen because up to 80% of the UV rays that cause sun damage, penetrate the clouds. So your chances of getting sunburn on a cloudy day are quite high,” informs Dr Mahajan.

Myth 4: Sunscreen should be applied just before stepping out
Nope! “You must apply sunscreen on the exposed parts of the body at least 30 minutes before going out. This is a must-do because sunscreen has two components, one chemical and the other physical. They take their time to distribute to the right places. So, for optimal protection, apply it in advance,” advises Dr Mahajan.

Myth 5: Since I have a dark skin tone, I don’t need sunscreen
Though dark-toned skin does not burn in the sun as easily as fair skin, sun can still damage the skin. Says Dr Dhir, “People with dark-toned skin also need sunscreen because any type of skin can get sun burn. But, the harmful effects of sun are less felt on dark-toned skin because of the rich presence of natural melanin pigment.”

First Published: May 29, 2013 17:45 IST