Is your sunscreen unsafe? Here’s how to tell

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SPF is all about keeping skin safe from the sun. We just put it on, step outside, and trust in what’s in the bottle, assured it will do its job and keep us from frying. But, there are actually a number of things we do that make our sunscreen unsafe. The shocking issue here is that it’s the things we do daily that cause us, and our sunscreens, harm.

Cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Fredric S Brandt, told the Huffing post that the first offence is leaving your sunscreen in your beach bag or car all summer and not storing it in a cool place. “Keeping sunscreen in the heat and exposing it to light will cause it to break down faster,” says Dr Brandt. “When sunscreen is stored in a high temperature, the effectiveness decreases, and the sunscreen becomes less stable and reliable. When it gets hot or is stored above 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the potency is destroyed, and the sunscreen will degrade.” He added that remembering to keep sunblock in the shade when we’re in the sun and removing it from our bag once we head indoors is one of the easiest ways to maintain its efficiency.

Dr Paul Jarrod Frank, a dermatologist, told the Huffington post that using SPF that is degraded in any way is dangerous simply because you’re not getting the protection you think you are. A common misconception is that when SPF expires, its “number” decreases, so you just have to apply more. According to Frank, this is shocking. “You don’t know exactly what the SPF is once sunscreens are expired, so you’re just putting yourself at an unnecessary risk,” he explains. Frank states the SPF you buy this season won’t be good next summer.

Frank and Brandt both stress that no matter what your SPF number is, you should be applying it at least 15 minutes before you step foot into the sun. Then, once you’re out there, you should be reapplying every two hours. “If you’re in the water for more than 20 minutes, you should reapply once you get out, though,” Frank advises.

Ultimately, the best way to ensure your sun lotion is safe is through education and, you, actually wanting to protect yourself.

Written by: Siyanda Nkala