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Sunscreen: Are You Really Covered?

What's true, and what's not, about sunscreen and SPF.

Sunscreen: True or False continued...

Don't want to invest in a whole new summer wardrobe? Spike your detergent with a wash-in SPF product you can toss in with your laundry.

4. Using makeup with SPF is just like wearing regular facial sunscreen.

FALSE. Certainly, applying makeup that contains SPF is better than skipping it altogether, but it's not as effective as wearing a facial lotion with sunscreen underneath. Generally, most makeup cracks on skin, allowing UV rays through.

"For makeup to provide adequate ultraviolet protection, it would need to be applied in a really thick layer, which most women do not do," Gilman says.

So unless you plan to spackle on your foundation, smooth on a layer of lotion with sunscreen first and then apply your makeup.

5. Sunscreen can cause cancer.

FALSE. The only way sunscreen could be hazardous to your health is if it is absorbed into the body, which does not happen, says Amy Wechsler, MD, dermatologist and author of The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Reverse Stress Aging and Reveal More Youthful, Beautiful Skin. "UV rays break down the chemical molecules in some sunscreens relatively quickly, long before they can seep into skin."

Still concerned? Use a sunscreen containing physical blocking ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which stay on the surface of the skin as a protective barrier. Don't be tempted to use babies' or children's sunscreens, which don't necessarily contain physical blocks.

Also, you should check the "active ingredients" section on the label to see what the bottle contains. Even the same product can vary from year to year.

6. "Water-resistant" sunscreen doesn't need to be reapplied after swimming.

FALSE. "No sunscreen is truly waterproof," Wechsler says. The FDA agrees. Sunscreens are allowed to call themselves "water-resistant" but not "waterproof," and their labels have to say how long the water resistance lasts.

You should reapply sunscreen every two hours, and every time you get in and out of the water or work up a sweat.

7. Wearing sunscreen can lead to vitamin D deficiency.

FALSE. No doubt about it: You need vitamin D (which your body can make when exposed to the sun).  But that doesn't give you a no-SPF pass.

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