10 Common SPF Myths Debunked – Skin Rocks

10 Common SPF Myths Debunked

Without a doubt, SPF is the most important step of your skincare routine. Regardless of your skin type, concerns or age, you should be wearing it every day - no matter the weather. Here, we debunk some common myths around SPF and its usage to help you understand how to properly protect your skin. 

1. ‘Layering sunscreens will increase sun protection’

Your SPF does not add up. Wearing SPF 30 underneath SPF 50 will not give you SPF 80. The sun protection factor is only equal to the highest number you apply.  

2. ‘You only need to wear SPF when it is sunny’

Skin-damaging UVA and UVB rays from the sun are present all-year-round, no matter the weather or time of year. Ensure you protect your skin daily with a broad-spectrum SPF. This indicates that the formula can protect your skin from both types of UV ray and will usually be written on the label.

3. ‘A higher SPF will always mean a thicker texture’

The texture of an SPF will solely depend on the formula, not the sun protection factor. 

 4. ‘Darker skin tones don't need to wear SPF’

Increased melanin levels in the skin can offer a small amount of natural protection, however, darker skin tones are still susceptible to UV damage. Deeper skin tones are advised to wear a minimum of SPF 30 every day.  

5. ‘There is little difference between SPF 50 and SPF 30’

SPF 50 allows approximately 2% of UV rays through, whereas SPF 30 allows 3%. You may be thinking - ‘there is only a 1% difference - what’s the big deal?’ - but what this actually means is that SPF 30 allows 50% more rays through. This is especially important when considering the cumulative effect of exposure to UVA rays (responsible for skin ageing).  

6. ‘Makeup or a moisturiser with added SPF is sufficient’

False. On average, you need 1 teaspoon worth of SPF for your face and neck. This may be a reasonable amount when using a dedicated SPF, but when it comes to your foundation or moisturiser, it's unlikely you are using enough. You are also less likely to reapply throughout the day. We recommend using a dedicated, broad-spectrum SPF in your routine. 

7. ‘I am wearing SPF 50 so I do not need to reapply as often’

Regardless of the sun protection factor number, SPF gets less effective over time. The protective film it provides will break down as you wear it due to sweat, transfer (e.g., brushing against your face with your hand/clothes etc) and coming into contact with your skin's natural oils. This is why it is important to reapply your SPF every 2 hours, especially if you are in the sun for long periods of time.

8. ‘You do not need to wear SPF if you are inside’

Whilst it is true that if you were getting absolutely no UV exposure (i.e., sitting in the pitch black all day) you would not need to wear SPF; this is very rarely the case. UVA rays penetrate through glass, so if there is a window nearby, your skin will be getting some sun exposure. It is best to apply SPF every day, even if you are staying indoors.  

 9. ‘SPF is always the last step in your routine'

In most cases, SPF is the last step of your routine. The general rule of applying skincare from thinnest to thickest applies to other types of products but not SPF. However, some SPF brands use new-to-market technologies that require their product to be applied first; we are also seeing the introduction of SPF serums which are placed before moisturisers in your routine. Please always follow product directions.

10. ‘Mineral SPFs are better than chemical SPFs’

This is not necessarily true and ultimately comes down to preference. There are several advantages of both mineral and chemical SPFs, as there are drawbacks. There is no ‘better’ or ‘worse’ – it simply depends on your individual skin and preferences. The best SPF is one that you will use consistently.