SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sounds simple, right? Not quite—there’s a lot more to uncover behind those three letters on your sunscreen label. We’ve all heard about SPF, the unsung hero that belongs in every skin-care routine, but not everything you’ve heard may be accurate. What we do know for a fact is that, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 90% of the signs of aging are caused by the sun, and in the U.S., more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Wondering what else is fact or fiction when it comes to properly safeguarding your skin against UVA (responsible for premature aging and skin cancer) and UVB rays (the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer)? Don’t be left in the dark—get your SPF facts straight with these 10 sunscreen myths, debunked:
Myth: SPF 100 works twice as well as SPF 50.
Busted: Sunscreen is only as protective as the highest level of SPF applied, so no need to do the math (whew). For example, if you apply an SPF 30 sunscreen and then layer on your SPF 15 foundation, you will not achieve an SPF 45—this gives you the SPF 30 protection. Here’s how it works: If you wear an SPF 30, it would in theory take you 30 times longer to burn in the sun than if you weren’t wearing any sunscreen. Higher SPF doesn’t guarantee equally high UVA protection—in fact, the FDA recently proposed a cap of SPF 60.
Myth: Clean sunscreens don’t work.
Busted: Our clean, broad-spectrum sunscreens are not only safer—they work. Many sunscreens on the market use ingredients like oxybenzone or octinoxate, which have suspicious health and environmental impacts. Beautycounter formulates our mineral sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide, which sits on the surface of the skin and physically bounces away the sun’s rays. Mineral sunscreens are great for people with sensitive skin—including little ones. Remember that sunscreens should be used on children six months of age or older (for babies under six months, check with your doctor for advice).
Myth: Spray-on sunscreens are dangerous.
Busted: At Beautycounter, we choose air-powered over aerosol. From the ingredients to the packaging to the application experience, we made sure to address every concern about our Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist. For one, it’s formulated with non-nano-sized zinc oxide particles that are about 10 times larger than those that can be inhaled and potentially lodged deep in the lungs. The “bag-on-valve” actuator allows for a spray application without the use of propellant chemicals, making it safer for your skin and the environment. We also designed our formula to spray on white to guide an even, visible, and effective application (don’t worry, it’s unnoticeable once you rub it in—which brings us to our next point).
Myth: Mineral SPF leaves a chalky white cast.
Busted: Rest assured that you can have sun protection and still look good in those IG pics. Countersun Daily Sheer Defense leaves no white cast—a go-to for layering over skin care and under makeup (pair it with our Skin Twin Featherweight Foundation). The rest of our Countersun formulas are designed to leave a sheer finish as they absorb into the skin, blending in evenly and drying quickly without an oily or chalky residue. Our Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Mist goes the extra mile, formulated to help camouflage imperfections and even out your skin tone.
Myth: People with darker skin don’t need sunscreen.
Busted: The truth is, no one’s safe from sun damage. One of the most common skin-care misconceptions is that having extra melanin in your skin means you’re exempt from slathering on sunscreen—but the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays aren’t discriminatory. While melanin offers some degree of natural protection, this baseline SPF doesn’t rule out your risk for developing signs of aging or skin cancer.
Myth: You don’t need to wear sunscreen inside or on gloomy days.
Busted: Sunscreen isn’t just for summer. Even when you can’t see the sun, UVA and UVB rays are there every day. In fact, UVA rays can still penetrate deep into your skin through clouds, smog, and glass (especially if you’re next to a window). Our Countersun products are all formulated to protect against the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays, and even High-Energy Visible (HEV) blue light rays emitted from electronic devices like your computer, smartphone, tablet, and TV.
Myth: A little bit of sunscreen goes a long way.
Busted: Just a dab won’t do—when it comes to effective sun protection, quality and quantity matter. The best practice for optimal sun protection is to apply liberally and evenly, 15 minutes before sun exposure. According to the FDA, a proper amount of product is at least 1 oz/30 g (about the amount to fill a shot glass) of sunscreen for an average-sized adult to evenly cover the body from head to toe. As for your face? We recommend applying about the size of a nickel to cover your entire face and neck.
Myth: Applying sunscreen once a day is enough.
Busted: Sunscreen isn’t a one-and-done deal. Make sure your skin is protected all day by reapplying sunscreen at least every two to four hours—and definitely after swimming or sweating, if you plan to be in the sun for a prolonged period of time. The good news? Our Countersun line is water resistant from 40–80 minutes, and the travel-sized Mineral Sunscreen Lotion and Mineral Sunscreen Mist are an ideal size to toss in your bag and take on the go.
Myth: Sunscreen never expires.
Busted: Better keep an eye on the expiration date printed on the packaging—sunscreen naturally degrades like any other skin-care product. While most sunscreens are designed to remain effective for about two years, prolonged exposure to sun and higher temperatures at the beach or pool may shorten the shelf life. But if you’re using enough to be fully protected, your sunscreen will likely be used up before you hit the expiration date.
Myth: All sunscreens are bad for the environment.
Busted: Our entire Countersun line is formulated without octinoxate and oxybenzone, two common sunscreen ingredients that harm coral reefs. We care so much about this issue that we helped make it a law in Hawaii. Switch to ocean-friendly SPF like our Countersun products to help protect our planet—and support our mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone.
Boom, busted! Now that we’ve shed a light on these common and dangerous sunscreen myths, you can be smart (and always be on the safe side) when it comes to SPF. P.S. It’s never too late to create a healthy habit and start applying sunscreen the right way, every day. Your skin will thank you.
From sunscreen mists to lotions to sticks, we’ve got you covered. Get sun-set with our full range of safer mineral sun care.