Sun protection: Top 6 myths busted

Plum blogAs the weather warms up, our attention turns from moisturization (M) to protection (P) in the CTMP process. We love busting myths, and we noticed quite a few myths, dark areas (no pun intended) and half-truths when it comes to sun protection, and thought of putting out a list of top 6 myths that need to be busted, so that you choose the right sun protection for yourself and for your family.


India is seriously well-endowed with sunshine, something many of us don't like, but we are lucky to be blessed with sunshine. Ask anyone who lives in the UK, for example. But human skin is not designed to take unlimited exposure to the sun. Darkening of skin is a known (and dreaded) consequence of sun exposure, but is that all you need to worry about? Does covering your face and arms with cloth and long gloves help prevent sun damage? We love busting myths, and chose our top 6 myths to bust.



Myth 1: I don't go out in the sun much, so I don't need to worry

  1. What you really need to worry about are UV rays, not visible sunlight. UV rays are a bit crazy - they can penetrate clouds, and reflect off water, concrete and soil - in short, they can get you anywhere unless you are inside a nuclear-proof bunker. 
  2. Therefore, excuses like "it's cloudy" and "i'm indoors" and "i avoid the sunlight" do not hold!


Myth 2: I cover my face and arms (ah! those long gloves) while outside, so I'm safe. (It's another matter that I look like a ninja...)

Fact: A typical white or light garment has an SPF of just around 7 or lower. Just not enough when you are out in the sun. Darker clothes have higher SPF, but then don't we prefer to wear lighter clothes in summer? If you want adequate protection from UV rays, we highly recommend choosing a good SPF cream


Myth 3: Darkening of skin is the only thing I need to worry about. If my skin stays light, or if I'm already dark-skinned, I need not worry 

Fact: Just like how a fever is the body's reaction to microbes, skin darkening is simply a reaction of the skin to sunlight. You have to attack the microbes, not the fever. Besides darkening, sun damage causes skin to look sagged and ageing (read why in our posts on antioxidants and green tea), hyper-pigmentation aka dark spots, and in extreme cases, skin cancer. The invisible damage from sun can be more dangerous than the visible damage


Myth 4: My fairness cream is all I need 

Fact: That would be true if your fairness cream came with the right amount of SPF. No SPF = no protection from sun, as simple as that. So how much should be the SPF? See below.


Myth 5: The higher the SPF, the better protected I am

Fact: An SPF of 10, means that if your bare skin can withstand sun without getting damaged for 20 minutes, SPF 10 can increase it by 10 times, i.e., protect your skin for 200 minutes, or just over 3 hours. SPF 30 would mean 600 minutes, or 10 hours. Secondly, the amount of UV rays filtered by higher SPF does not increase beyond a point. See the table below for the extent of UV ray filtration by various levels of SPF:
SPF % of UVB rays filtered
15 93%
30 97%
50 98%
100 99%
As you can see, it gets pointless beyond SPF30, which is a good place to be.


Myth 6: Yippee! I have SPF now. That's all I need.

Fact: Hold on. If you read the table above carefully, SPF is good to filter UVB rays. Without getting too technical, you need protection from both UVA and UVB. Look for ingredients like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and avobenzone on the ingredient list that can also give you protection from UVA rays.


So long, then. We will do a more in-depth piece on SPF in a short while. Till then, do make sure you fully understand and start following these safe sun practices. Questions? Do write in here:

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