The SPF essentials: Everything you need to know about sun care

A lot of information exists about what is safe and what is risky when it comes to spending the day in the sun. But how do you know what is fact and what is fiction? We debunk the most common myths of proper sun protection


We all love summer and the way the sun feels on our skin, but we shouldn’t mistake that warm, fuzzy feeling for something harmless. The sad truth is, it’s possible to develop skin cancer from being sunburnt just once. If you manage to burn your skin once every two years, the risk of getting melanoma (the most dangerous form of skin cancer) actually triples. Next to these startling statistics, exposure to the sun’s UV rays also causes altered pigmentation and loss of elasticity and collagen, making your skin age prematurely. 


While you may think you’re pretty clued up when it comes to sun care, it turns out, there’s some dangerous rumours flying around. Whether you’re jetting off to the beach this summer, or just heading out for a sunny lunch time walk, pay attention to these seven common misconceptions. 


1. As long as your skin hasn’t turned red from the sun, you’re fine.

Actually, tanning occurs when UV rays penetrate the skin and injure pigment cells. Don’t confuse it with a healthy glow; a sun tan is actually proof that your skin has been damaged. You can reduce the effects by using a high-level sunscreen, or using a self-tanning lotion self-tanning lotion to get a sun-kissed look without putting yourself at risk. 


2. Leftover sunscreen from last year’s holiday? Waste not, want not.

All cosmetics have an expiration date, and the same applies to sun protection products. Check the back of the container for a symbol that looks like an opened jar with a number on it. This number indicates the number of months you can use it after it’s opened—go past that amount of time, and the protective properties in the formula have decreased significantly.  


3. Applying sunscreen once will protect me the entire day.

It doesn’t matter what SPF you use, sunscreen must be reapplied throughout the day. Whether we’re swimming, perspiring or simply lounging about, the active ingredients in sun protection break down. They need a boost on a regular basis. 

4. No sun? No problem!

This myth is particularly dangerous because most people don’t think about sunscreen on overcast days. However, UV radiation can penetrate through thin clouds, exposing you to danger without you even feeling the sun’s warmth. In some cases, the UV rays can even reflect off the edges of clouds, intensifying their strength.  


5. Only fair-skinned people need to worry about getting sunburnt.

While it’s true that darker skin doesn’t burn as quickly as lighter skin, it can still burn, become damaged and develop cancer without adequate protection. The same thing goes for those who think their holiday “base tan” means they don’t need to use any sunscreen. In actuality, a slight tan can be equated with SPF 4 level protection, which is far from enough. Our new and improved sun care formula has no white cast, absorbing quickly into all skin tones.


6. You can’t burn in the shade.

When the sun is beating down, taking refuge under a parasol or tree can feel like a cool haven in the heat. But don’t get too confident there. Are you better protected from the sun? Yes, but not completely. If your shade has any holes or gaps (think trees or a parasol), then UV rays can trickle in. Light surfaces like sand, concrete or water are also very good at reflecting sun rays, meaning we can still be at risk in those shady spots. 


7. My make-up has SPF in, so I’m covered.

Some studies have shown that when SPF is mixed with makeup or moisturisers, it becomes less efficient. So don’t just rely on your foundation with SPF 15, when you’re looking for face sun protection, look out for the term ‘broad spectrum’. This means you’ll be protected from UVA and UVB (which even some high factor SPFs don’t have). Our broad-protection face SPF protects, soothes and restores elasticity to your skin. Enriched with our Hydra-Boost Complex, it’s also super hydrating and settles in with a mostly matte finish, so no oily feeling either.


The takeaway point is – if in doubt, always wear sun cream. The Ritual of Karma sun care range has been especially developed to protect your skin from harmful rays. Plus, our new and improved formula is reef-safe, meaning it’s free from chemicals that cause harm to marine life. From SPF face cream to cooling after sun lotion, our quick absorbing, non-sticky formulas will also leave your skin delightfully fragranced.

Amy Lawrenson

Amy Lawrenson

Amy Lawrenson is a UK beauty editor with over 13 years of experience writing for magazines and websites including ELLE, Grazia, Women's Health and Byrdie. She has a keen interest in all things beauty and wellness, especially skincare because who doesn't want a clear, glowing complexion?