Info, News

7 myths and facts about sunscreen

Hopefully summer is on its way – and time to talk sunscreen. We have never officially had the sunscreen debate so here goes…

Many of you might already know:
SPF 15 – blocks out 93% of UVB rays
SPF30 – blocks out 97% of UVB rays
SPF50- blocks out 98% of UVB rays

What many of you may NOT know:

  • The average sunscreen is only tested and graded on its UVB factor and not UVA.
  • Testing the UVA block percentage is expensive and up and till recently not required as part of sunscreen testing.
  • UVB is responsible for the reddening of the skin when burning but UVA’s damage is not easily seen and is often more responsible for premature ageing and sun damage long term.
  • Many sunscreens do not offer UVA protection and by providing only UVB protection give the user a false sense of safely in the sun.
  • All SPF testing is determined by an application of 2mg of sunscreen per 1 cm of skin!  Most people apply 0.4 ml of sunblock per 1 cm of skin. As a result you are often falsely under the impression you are well blocked when you are not. Many have only blocked out half, or less of the SPF % stated on their sun screen bottle.
  • Waterproof sun blocks do not last longer than 40 minutes regardless of what they promise.
  • All sun blocks, regardless of the SPF factor needs to be reapplied at least (if not more often) every 2 hours for effective sun protection.

What you need to look for in a sunblock:

  • A broad spectrum block out (offering UVB and UVA protection) is more important than one that boasts a high SPF protection percentage.
  • There is no such thing as ‘all day protection, 100% safe in the sun or any similar claims that are made’ this is misleading advertising.
  • A well applied SPF 30 is going to offer you the same protection as a thinly applied SPF50 and anything about 50 is purely a marketing ploy.



  1. As most people do not apply a thick enough layer of SPF to their skin it is better to opt for an SPF 30 which offers 4% more block out so that even a thinner layer of SPF 30 will block you out 93% ( which if an equivalent of an SPF15)!
  2. Our supplier’s SPF 50 and SPF 30 was retested in 2012 according to the new upgraded sunscreen regulations.
  3. The SPF 15 was tested more than 5 years ago. This is a hugely expensive process. It might be a while still before the SPF has been re tested to the latest criteria.


7 myths and facts about sunscreen

  • SUNSCREEN MYTH:  Sunscreen blocks the body from absorbing Vitamin D
  • FACT:  using sunscreen does not block the body’s ability to make Vitamin D.  Most people get enough sun exposure doing everyday outdoor activities such as walking to their car/bus, especially in South Africa. Children get more than enough playing outdoors during school break and on weekends. The best way to boost your vitamin D intake is  by eating foods that provide it.
  • SUNSCREEN MYTH:  You don’t need sunscreen if you have a dark skin or already have a tan.
  • FACT:  Everybody, regardless of race, ethnic origins and skin type is subject to the damaging effects of exposure to the sun. Even those who tan easily and rarely burn should use sunscreen .  a ‘base’ tan is no substitute for sunscreen either.
  • SUNSCREEN MYTH:  does sunscreen with SPF 30 provide twice as much protection as SPF 15?
  • FACT:  NO. Sunscreen SPF15 protects  93% of the UVB rays while SPF 30 protects 97% of UVB rays. The higher SPF are all marketing ploys.
  • SUNSCREEN MYTH:  Sunscreens protect against both UVA (ageing rays) and UVB (burning rays).
  • FACT:  SPF ratings only apply to UVB protections.  It is very important to look for sunscreen labelled ‘broad spectrum’ which means it also offers UVA protection. Elixir Skincare’s SPF15/30 are both broad spectrum sunblock’s offering protections from both UVB and UVA rays.
  • SUNSCREEN MYTH:  Waterproof sunscreen  provides ‘all day protection’ and does not need to be re applied
  • FACT:  Waterproof sunscreens loose some of their effectiveness after 40 minutes in the water.  NO sunscreen provides all day protection.  ALL sunscreens should be applied (with the correct dose) every 2 hours.
  • SUNSCREEN MYTH:  Sunscreen is unnecessary on cloudy days and inside.
  • FACT:  80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through clouds.  UV rays can be reflected off, sand, water and snow, so you can even sunburn in the shade.  In fact, sand reflects 25% of the sun’s rays and snow reflects 80% of the sun’s rays. UVA can penetrate car windows too – unless the windows are tinted.
  • SUNSCREEN MYTH:  Using sunscreen will prevent skin cancer.
  • FACT:  Wearing sunscreen everyday can greatly reduce the risk for developing skin cancer, however in some cases sunscreen is ‘blamed’ for encouraging people to stay in the sun longer than they should regardless of how well they are blocked out.