The next time you're hanging out at the beach, you might want to watch what you say about sunscreen, or at least speak a little softer—you never know, a beauty editor might be lounging next to you, hanging on your every word. Case in point: I recently got back from vacation in Mexico, and after a week of relaxing at the beach and in the pool, I heard some of the most ridiculous, and potentially dangerous, statements made about wearing (and not wearing) sunscreen. Not one to get involved with strangers, I instead eavesdropped on vacationers' conversations, then turned to my boyfriend and lectured him on sun safety (not entirely necessary, as he was doused from head to toe in SPF 75 due to my incessant nagging). Upon my return, I immediately sent a list of all the things I overheard on my trip to Jeannette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Consider this an Allure version of Mythbusters—the skin-care edition.
Overheard: "Anything over SPF 30 is the same—the higher SPFs don't give you any more protection."
Truth: "Incorrect. A higher SPF gives more protection—that is a tested, proven fact. Plus, the higher numbers absorb high-energy, free-radical-producing rays. But remember, regardless of the level of SPF, reapplication every two hours is a must," says Graf.
Overheard: "She has dark skin and won't burn, so she doesn't have to wear sunscreen."
Truth: "Women with darker skin won't burn as easily, but she must wear sunscreen," Graf explains. Whether you burn easily or not, the sun's rays can still cause wrinkles and skin cancer.
Overheard: "If you're wearing foundation, you don't need sunscreen. A layer of makeup will protect your skin from the sun."
Truth: Makeup will not act as a barrier for UV rays, even if it has an added SPF. "Testing has shown that the SPF protection from a makeup product alone is insufficient. That small amount of SPF is always a nice addition, but not enough to protect your skin," says Graf. Always apply sunscreen (or a moisturizer with broad-spectrum sun protection) under your makeup. If you're worried about your skin looking greasy, there are plenty of great mattifying options for the face. I love Chanel UV Essentiel Multi-Protective UV Care SPF 50.
Overheard: "You're at the greatest risk for skin cancer as a kid. I'm in my 60s and way beyond that now."
Truth: "Unfortunately, we are all at risk for burns," says Graf. It's nothing you grow out of—sunburns are ageless."