Skincare expert reveals the 5 sunscreen myths you need to know

These will surprise you!

woman applying sunscreen
(Image credit: cdwheatley / iStock)

Despite a mini heatwave hitting the UK recently, we actually haven't had as much summer sun as expected this year. This has caused many of us to look past the importance of SPF, thinking it's unnecessary to apply when temperatures aren't that high. 

Believe it or not, this is an extremely detrimental point of view, and you should check out the 5 reasons you should use sunscreen daily for healthier skin if you're suspicious. Dermatologists say it can have dangerous effects on your skin’s health and cause serious permanent damage. However, there are also many myths and rumours out there that can be just as damaging, one of them being that you don't need to wear sunscreen when the sun is away. 

Well, don't panic. Travel insurance provider, PayingTooMuch, managed to speak to Dr. Hamdan Abdullah Hamed MBChB on our behalf, a board-certified Dermatologist, who provided advice about the dangers of UV exposure and debunked 5 of the most common sunscreen misconceptions. 

Before we begin, why don't you check out some of our other heatwave content. It's supposed to be 30 degrees on Saturday if you didn't know!

These are the 5 best cooling fabrics to wear during a heatwave

Eat this fruit to stay hydrated during the heatwave

Struggling to sleep in the heatwave? Try these 8 expert-approved tips

1. You don’t need to wear SPF on cloudy days or indoors

Although the intensity may be lower than direct sunlight, UV rays are still able to penetrate through clouds and even glass. This means that your skin can still be exposed to radiation, even on cloudy days or while near windows indoors! To prevent skin damage, it’s recommended to wear SPF consistently, even if the weather seems less sunny.

2. You are only protected if you use SPF 50

SPF measures how much protection sunscreen offers against UV rays. Whilst higher SPF's do offer more protection, the difference is fairly small; SPF 50 blocks around 98% of UV rays, which is just 1% more than SPF 30 that blocks around 97%. The most important thing to remember is that no sunscreen can offer 100% protection from sun damage, so you should still take other steps to protect yourself such as wearing protective clothing and keeping in the shade. 

3. A base tan makes you less likely to burn

A base tan only provides protection equivalent to around SPF 2-4, which is not enough to prevent skin damage. In fact, a tan itself is a sign of skin damage caused by UV radiation. Whether you have a tan or not, you should always take precautions to protect yourself from the sun, including wearing enough sunscreen. 

4. You don’t need to wear sun cream if your makeup has SPF in it

Makeup or moisturisers with SPF can offer an additional layer of protection, but it’s not enough to protect against sun damage on its own. The amount of makeup you wear will usually not contain as much SPF as you need to prevent damage. Because of this, it’s important to apply a sunscreen with adequate SPF beneath any makeup you wear, even if the makeup has SPF in it.

5. You can’t tan if you wear sun cream

Sun cream helps to protect against UV rays, but isn’t able to block them entirely. Because of this, some UV radiation can still get through and cause your skin to produce melanin, which is the pigment responsible for tanning. SPF 15 will block around 93% of UV rays when applied thoroughly. This means that approximately 7% of the rays penetrate your skin. SPF 30 will block 97% and SPF 50, 98% of rays. This means you are still able to tan while wearing sun cream, although the amount you tan may be less.

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.