The 5 Most Dangerous Sun Safety and Skin Health Myths - A Dermatologist's Perspective

Summer Skin Tips

We sat down with Dr. Jason Rivers, creator of Riversol Skincare for a short chat about the most common, and serious myths that he comes across regarding skin health during sunnier months. As a clinical dermatologist with over 30 years of experience, he has seen some pretty surprising ones, for now here are his top 5.

  1. What are the two most prevalent myths that you have seen around sun safety?

    I would say the two most common misconceptions that I come across are:

    1. That cloud coverage protects you from sunburn. This is false: ~ 80% of UV radiation penetrates clouds, hence why you may have noticed a sun burn following a long summer day of outside activity here in cloudy Vancouver. And,
    2. that you can’t get a sunburn when swimming as UV radiation can penetrate clear water to at least a meter and reflected light from the surface can intensify the UV exposure there is absolutely a need for good broad-spectrum UV protection while swimming.
  2. How does our skin’s need for liquid hydration change as the months start to warm up, if at all? Should I be drinking more water for my skin’s sake?

    This is a common misconception. The skin does not require us to drink copious amounts of fluid to keep it hydrated. However, during the summer, especially during and after exercise, adequate fluid intake is crucial for normal circulatory and kidney function. The skin itself only becomes dehydrated after severe and prolonged fluid deficiency. If you drink 12 litres of water for your skin, most of it will simply go right through you.

  3. Let’s talk sunscreen, once and for all, is there really a difference between SPF say, 50 and 100?

    On a purely scientific basis there is really a limited difference between SPF 50 and 100. With SPF 50, 2% of UVB can penetrate the skin while with a SPF 100 1% of UV can penetrate the skin. A higher sunscreen SPF relates to the relative performance of one sunscreen to another with regards to UVB radiation (not directly to UVA which is also important).  The SPF does not mean that with SPF 50 you can stay out for 12 hours without burning – as it is dependent on the time of day, skin colour of the person and whether or not the sunscreen is coming off due to sweat or towelling.  The main reason for using a higher SPF - say 30 over 15 is that people only apply ¼ to ½ the amount they are supposed to and that does reduce the effective SPF substantially.

  4. If we get too much sun and burn, what’s the best way to take care of our skin afterwards? 

    First get out the sun.  Apply cool towels to the skin. Take aspirin and apply a gentle moisturizing lotion.  If the skin is severely affected with blistering, then the use of a topical steroid cream may be of benefit.  Drink plenty of fluids to maintain hydration.

  5. What can I do to keep my skin looking healthy in the heat when the last thing I want to do is put on a moisturizer?

    In the heat, simplify your routine. Go as "bare-faced" as possible and wash regularly with a gentle cleanser. This will help minimize the appearance of a shiny complexion. Follow with a lightweight moisturizer every time to prevent excess oil-production. Remember however that overzealous use of cleansers or anti acne agents may irritate the skin.

Get a sample of Dr. Rivers' simple routine for Oily skin here. The complete routine can be purchased at a special 15% trio kit discount. Looking for something more hydrating? Try a sample of the anti-aging system designed specifically for dry skin.