Your sunscreen may not prevent sun damage as effectively as you think.

Studies have reported some grim statistics about skin cancer, showing that its prevalence has doubled in the last 20 years. Why is skin cancer so common these days? Don’t worry, Detective David is here to save the day again. Here’s what the skincare industry doesn’t want you to know.

Is Sunscreen BAD for You? (This Is How It CAN Be Dangerous for You!)

Plenty of people make the mistake of thinking that you only need to wear sunscreen in the summertime. The truth is, sun damage to skin can actually be worse in the winter time — UV rays from the sun can hit you directly and then bounce off the snow and hit you again. You ski-bunnies out there especially need to protect your skin from the sun, because UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes!

So how does sunscreen work and how does it protect us?

Essentially, the sun puts out two types of rays — UV-A and UV-B. UV-A rays are the ones that penetrate into our skin more deeply and are believed to be responsible for long term skin damage, like sun damage spots and cancer. UV-B rays are the ones that burn our skin.

What does the SPF in sunscreen stand for, and what does the number next to it mean? The SPF (stands for “sun protection factor”) in sunscreen is as measure of how much longer you can be in the sun than you could have without any sunscreen. For instance, an SPF 50 sunscreen will let you be exposed to the sun for 15 times longer without getting sunburnt.

The dangers of sunscreen: FDA approved?

Did you know that SPF 50 sunscreen and higher can’t be effectively tested to see how well they protect us from sun damage?

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Another little industry secret is that the SPF in sunscreen only rates protection from UV-B rays. That means no matter how often you’re applying sunscreen, you’re not protecting yourself from UV-A rays– the ones that cause serious long term skin damage. There is currently no rating for UV-A protection, but using a waterproof, broad spectrum sunscreen is likely the safest way to go.

Now we come to my biggest pet peeve in the beauty industry — FDA issues.

The 2011 FDA rules allow sunscreen lotion brands to claim their product can decrease the risk of skin cancer. But of course, since we just learned that sunscreen doesn’t completely protect your skin from the sun’s cancer-causing UV-A rays, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that there is little evidence to support that.

Even worse, there is some evidence that for some people, sunscreen can cause cancer — though this might be because of user error. Many people get a false sense of security when they slather on the highest SPF sunscreen they could find in the store — they’re not very likely to reapply. As a South Floridian, I can say that I’ve seen people make this mistake countless times.

European sunscreen brands have over 60% more formula options than we do in the US. The ingredients used in Europe have been shown to protect up to five times better. Makers stateside have been waiting years for FDA approval to use those same combinations.

Prevent sun damage — the right way

Once you understand what is in sunscreen to protect the skin and its limitations, you are in the powerful position to keep yourself and your family protected — not just through the summer months, but throughout your lifetimes.

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Remember that every time your purchase a particular sunscreen brand, you’re sending a message. Do your research and only buy what is best for you and your family. Once you’ve figured that part out – get out there and have some fun!

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