Patients often tell us about skin care do’s and don’ts they’ve heard. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so we’re sharing the top four skin care myths we’ve heard and what the truth really is, so you can make sure you’re well-informed and can properly care for your skin.
Skin Care Myth #1: Using a tanning bed helps you get a “healthy tan” for protection from sunburn.
Alaska Center for Dermatology Providers often hear patients downplay the damage tanning beds can do to skin, even suggesting that tanning beds help protect from sunburns and aren’t bad for their skin.
The fact is that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization label UV radiation from the sun or artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Studies have shown that using tanning beds increases the risk for skin cancer, including melanoma.
That’s why any tan, including a “base tan”, is a sign of damage to your skin because a tan is the result of your body increasing pigmentation in an attempt to protect itself against UV damage. Plus a “base tan”, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, cannot prevent sunburns.
A tan may look good for a few days short-term, but there are long-term consequences to consider including faster skin aging, wrinkles earlier in life, and a higher chance of developing skin cancer at some point in your life.
Skin Care Myth #2: An SPF greater than 30 is not better than SPF 30.
You might have heard that SPFs in sunscreen above 30 aren’t really more effective or better.
SPF 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. Sunscreens with higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s UVB rays. However, no sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s UVB rays. There are three ingredients to look for in a sunscreen: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and Mexoryl. As for the SPF number, you shouldn’t be wearing anything less than SPF 30 when it comes to UVA and UVB protection.
Skin Care Myth #3: I work in an office, so I don’t need to wear sunscreen every day.
Many people think that working inside means that sunscreen isn’t necessary on a daily basis.
Our Providers explain that windows don’t actually provide protection from UVA rays – the ones that are responsible for those unfortunate signs of aging and increased skin cancer risk. Unless you sit in a windowless room and don’t drive or walk anywhere, you’re probably getting more sun than you bargain for. Whether you’re looking to reduce your risk of skin cancer or stay looking young longer, sun protection is by far one of the most important things you can do for your skin.
Also, patients sometimes think they don’t need sunscreen if it’s cloudy outside. However, 80% of the sun’s rays still penetrate even on cloudy days so sunscreen is helpful every day, in any kind of weather.
Skin Care Myth #4: Vitamin E makes scars fade.
Some people believe that Vitamin E can help get rid of the appearance of scars.
There is little clinical evidence that vitamin E oil or supplements can reduce the appearance of scars. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) does recommend moisturizing the skin to help prevent scars from forming during wound healing. Your best bet is to talk with a Dermatologist about options to help reduce the appearance of any scars.