The internet is brimming with conflicting stories surrounding SPF legends and sun protection. With so much opposing information, how do you know what to believe when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun? One thing is for sure - just about everything your mom taught you about sun protection when you were a kid is no longer relevant. Today, we’re breaking down SPF myths and setting the record straight! Stay cool (and safe) for the summer!


UVA vs. UVB Rays

Knowing the difference between UVA and UVB rays is crucial information when it comes to long-term skin protection. While they both increase your chance of cancer, SPF only protects against UVB rays, which cause the physical sunburn. Any old sunscreen will shield you from these, but it’s the deeply-penetrating UVA rays that will get you in the long run, causing leathery, saggy skin and wrinkles years down the road. To make sure you’re protecting yourself from both these types of sun damage, only use broad spectrum sunscreen or products that contain zinc or at least 3% avobenzone like our Firmarine Moisturizer SPF 30.


A Higher SPF Is Better

Contrary to everything sunscreen companies would have you believe, a higher SPF hardly increases the level of protection your sunscreen offers. SPF (standing for Sun Protection Factor) is a measurement of how much UV energy it takes to produce a sunburn. For instance, if you apply our Phelityl Day Lotion SPF 15, it allows your skin to withstand 15 times the UVB intensity that would otherwise cause a sunburn.

The FDA recommends wearing between SPF 15 and SPF 50 daily. SPF 15 protects from about 93% of UVB rays while SPF 30 gives 97% protection and 98% in SPF 50. Any SPF higher than that is advised against as the difference in protection is so minute and the sun-filtering chemicals in high SPFs pose health risks that could jeopardize your precious facial tissue or even mess with your hormones.


But a Higher SPF Means You Can Apply Less Frequently?

Absolutely not. SPF level has nothing to do with the longevity of protection. Another reason while wearing an unnecessarily high SPF is a no go: people are more likely to spend longer in the sun and reapply less often, which leads to even more sun damage. Regardless of what SPF you’re wearing, you should be applying every two hours (and even more often if you’re swimming or sweating).


Expired Sunscreen Will Still Do the Trick

A thousand times no! We’ve all learned the hard way that once sunscreen is expired, it’s really expired. Like, recycle that thing STAT and prevent a future disaster in the making. The active ingredients in sunscreen deteriorate over time, so take a look at the expiration date before slapping on the questionable bottle you swiped from your parent’s house. (For the record, Erno Laszlo products are good for two years after opening, so you have plenty of time to use them up!)

Finally, remember that it’s just as important to wear sunscreen throughout a cloudy day as it is for a sunny one. This is when those strong and sneaky UVA rays will really get you! Don’t forget to protect your eyes and hairline, which need some summer loving too.