Sunscreen: 12 myths put to the test

Does UV light improve the complexion? Does a solarium tan help against sun allergy? Twelve myths about sun protection – which are true and which are not?

Myth 1: A little tan improves the complexion

YES. "Inflamed skin can be improved with UV light, for example for neurodermatitis or psoriasis," says Dr. Helger Stege, chief physician at the Dermatology Clinic Lippe. The proportion of blue light also plays a role in acne because oxygen radicals reduce the number of bacteria. But: The sun thickens the skin and builds up a so-called callus. Then the small ducts on the hair follicle can become blocked, and even more pimples form. "There can be relief, but also increased acne," says Dr. Walkways. "And because the immune system shuts down in the sun, we also have a viral and bacterial problem, we get herpes or bacterially colonized oozing eczema."

Myth 2: Applying cream once is enough for the whole day

It would be nice. The film wears off through activity, rubbing of clothing, sweat or just grasping the face. "On a beach vacation we should renew the sun protection after two hours at the latest"says Dr. Tamara Steinhauer, global product developer at Nivea Sun. And also apply new cream after bathing, because: "Waterproof means that the protection provided after two 20-minute baths still corresponds to 50 percent of the original value," says the chemist. "With extra water resistant, that value is reached after four times 20 minutes."

Myth 3: If I'm only outside for a short time, half of the cream is enough

Sure, you can do that. It is important to know: "Sun protection factors do not halve, but are minimized around the root 2", explains dermatologist Stege. Means: If you apply sun protection factor (SPF) 50, you will only achieve SPF 7 with half of the product. The amount recommended by the manufacturer: hazelnut-sized for the face, 30 milliliters for the whole body. Too much is too sticky? A trick helps here: apply cream with about half and add the remaining amount after half an hour.

Myth 4: You don't need to protect yourself in the shade

NOT CORRECT. The UV rays scatter through the reflections in all directions. That is why we need sufficient protection in the shade. Up to 50 percent of the UV rays still penetrate through a parasol. Glass also does not protect against sun rays. The UVB radiation responsible for the tan is blocked, but UVA rays land on the skin unfiltered. They penetrate deeper and are responsible for aging processes and allergies. In cars, UV protection is often only on the windscreen, and this is usually part of the special equipment. Therefore, always apply cream on longer car journeys.

Myth 5: Regular creaming is the best protection

No. Experts advise you to avoid the sun entirely in midsummer between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., because the rays are far too intense. Clothing also provides UV protection, here the rule applies: the darker and denser the textiles are woven, the higher the protection, chemical fibers are better than cotton and viscose. Special UV clothing should bear the "UV Standard 801" seal. A good T-shirt is mandatory for all sports in the water, otherwise the shoulders can burn very quickly.

Myth 6: White skin cancer is not a real cancer

But! And it is even more common than black ones. "One type of white skin cancer metastasizes and is then just as dangerous as the black one," says Dr. Helger Stege. Although the number of skin cancer cases in Germany is increasing, the death toll remains largely unchanged. "This is probably due to a higher level of awareness in dealing with the sun and skin." The cancer is simply discovered earlier and is usually very curable. From the age of 35, the health insurance companies cover the costs of a screening at the dermatologist every two years.

Myth 7: Tanning from the solarium prevents sun allergy.

A clear no, Because the skin turns brown, but does not build up any protective calluses. "In my opinion, sun allergies remain constant," says the dermatologist. "They only appear all year round because people have become more eager to travel." His advice: slowly get used to the UV rays and apply a high sun protection factor.

Myth 8: Body lotion is sufficient as after-sun care

Yes and no The body lotion should not be too rich in grease, otherwise a moisture exchange is hindered by a so-called occlusive effect that almost seals the skin. However, if ingredients such as aloe vera or panthenol are in the cream, this has a soothing, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing effect. Special after-sun products are often a little thinner, so they are easier to distribute and have a cooling effect.

Myth 9: In order to form vitamin D, you should often be exposed to the sun without protection

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE! "Even intensive 10- to 20-minute radiation in the midday sun over a longer period of time would not fill up the vitamin D storage sufficiently," says the expert. "The same wavelength of light that also causes skin cancer is necessary for vitamin D synthesis." Check with your doctor to see if you have a vitamin D deficiency – and how well your kidneys are working. In higher doses, vitamin D can permanently damage these organs. If you are menopausal, ask whether you should take calcium or magnesium in addition to vitamin D tablets for bone density.

Myth 10: curd helps with sunburn

Yes, but it's only about the cooling effect. It simply lasts longer with curd cheese than with a cloth soaked in cold water. But be careful: Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin and should not be underestimated. In the case of severe reddening, it is better to briefly consult the pharmacy whether a light cortisone cream is useful.

Myth 11: Sunscreen prevents split ends

Theoretically yes. The chemical sun filters for the skin are similar to those for the hair. But who wants a greasy crotch? Most sunscreens also contain mineral filters that would cause dull hair. In order to protect the hair from drying out, breaking off or fading in the sun, you should always use special UV protection in summer. "Colored hair in particular quickly loses color," says Tamara Steinhauer. She advises to additionally cover the head with a cloth or cap. If hair is sparse or parted, transparent sprays for the face protect against scalp burns.

Myth 12: Corals die from sunscreen

Unfortunately, that's true. Noaa estimates that up to 6000 tons of sunscreen end up in the reefs, causing damage to corals and fish. "Above all, the chemical filters octinoxate and oxybenzone are suspected of being able to damage coral reefs." The two UV filters are officially classified as safe for use in cosmetic products, but do not meet our increasingly high standards, "says Dr. Tamara Steinhauer "They are therefore not included in our European sun products." Both filters will be banned in Hawaii from January 2021.

Protection and care for a relaxed use of the sun

HAIR SPRAY: Detangles and cares for damaged summer hair. With cucumber and mint extract: "After Sun Moisture Spray" by John Frieda, 150 ml approx. 7 euros

BATHING FUN: The "UV Dry Protect Cream Gel SPF 30" is absorbed immediately and does not grease. From Nivea Sun, 175 ml approx. 11 euros

SUNROOF: Oil-free protection for the scalp, prevents light-related skin changes: "Solvinea Liquid AK SPF 30" from Dermasence, 75 ml approx. 16.50 euros

FRESH: with grape water: "Anti-wrinkle sun cream for the face SPF 50" by Caudalíe, 50 ml approx. 21 euros

COLORFUL: The "Invigo Sun UV Hair Color Protection Spray" receives hair colorations. From Wella Professionals, 150 ml approx. 23 euros

SKIN TREATMENT: Soothes and cools with ectoin and hyaluronic acid: "After Sun Ampullenkur" by Annemarie Börlind, 7×2 ml approx. 17 euros

SENSITIVE: for allergic skin – and for corals: "Anthelios Shaka Fluid 50+" by La Roche-Posay, 50 ml approx. 20 euros

Would you like to read more about the topic and exchange ideas with other women? Then check out the "Skin Care and Cosmetics Forum" BRIGITTE community past

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