Misconceptions about sun protection

There are a lot of myths and half-truths about sun protection.

Here are the most popular misconceptions surrounding this topic as well as information on how you can properly protect your skin from the sun.

Application time of sun cream

A woman holds a tube of Linola sun lotion in her hand.

Sunbathers are often advised to apply sun cream 20 minutes before going into the sun. But sun cream provides immediate protection because its mineral and chemical UV filters use physical effects to neutralise UV radiation by reflecting the rays like small mirrors or converting them into thermal radiation.

However, the sun protection factor (SPF) stated on the bottle can only be achieved if the recommended quantity is applied. Around 10 g for a 5-year-old and 30 g for an adult must be used per application for the entire body. However, many do not apply enough cream, i.e., they apply too thin a layer, which results in the protection being considerably lower than the SPF on the packaging.

Waterproof sun protection

Many consumers buy waterproof sun cream, believing that they do not need to apply more cream after swimming. However, water contact alone can reduce the protective effect by up to 50%. Drying off afterwards can weaken the level of protection even further, which means reapplying cream is essential – even if the products are waterproof. In intense heat, sun cream should be reapplied every 2 hours, regardless of whether users go into the water, because sweating, clothing and lying on towels or blankets make the protective layer of the sun cream thinner. Many users incorrectly think that reapplying cream increases the maximum duration of protection, but this is not the case. The protection is simply maintained. The sun protection factor alone determines the maximum duration of protection.

Clothing as sun protection

Many people are of the belief that if the skin is covered by clothing, it is automatically protected from the sun. Sun rays can still penetrate through fabric depending on the type of material and the manufacturing process. As a rule of thumb, the closer the mesh of the textiles, the better the protection from the sun's rays. Loose clothing offers better protection than tight clothing. Dark fabrics are preferable to light fabrics. It is therefore advisable to apply sun cream particularly under thinner clothing when spending time in the sun, e.g., when walking or doing sporting activities.