Facts vs. Myths: Sun Exposure, Sunscreens, and Sunburns

Ada Polla

The sun is (or at least should be) shining; it’s that time of year. And, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. All in all, it is time to reveal some myths and facts about sun exposure, sunscreens, and sunburns. Here are some tips to help you and your clients separate fact from fiction when it comes to this burning topic (no pun intended).

Myth: I don’t need to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day.

Fact: Up to 85% of UV can penetrate light cloud cover.

Myth: I have a tan, so I won’t burn.

Fact: Having a tan is only the equivalent of about SPF 4. This does not mean you won’t burn.

Myth: I am young; I don’t need to worry about skin cancer.

Fact:  Melanoma (skin cancer) is the #1 cancer seen in ages 25-29.

Myth: I need more vitamin D, so I shouldn’t wear sunscreen.

Fact: You only need about 10 minutes of sun exposure per day to get enough vitamin D for your wellbeing. (And remember, even with sunscreen on, you will get sun exposure.)

Myth: Getting just one sunburn won’t really harm my skin.

Fact: A single sunburn in childhood will increase the risk of melanoma. And, it can take up to 5 years for the skin to fully recover from one sunburn!

Myth: Tanning beds are safe.

Fact: UVs matter inside and out; indoor tanning may increase the chance of getting melanoma up to 75%.

Myth: Sunscreen will block all UV.

Fact: “Sunscreen is not enough,” says Dr. Karen Burke. Remember to layer your antioxidants under your sunscreen, so you have a second line of defense (try Alchimie Forever Diode 1 + 2 serums for your face and Alexandrite gel for neck, bust, and body).

Other interesting truths about the sun and sunscreens:

UVA versus UVB:
*UVA damages DNA and leads to skin cancer (damage is not initially visible to the naked eye).

*UVB leads to redness and ultimately wrinkles (the visible effects of sunburn).

Chemical versus physical sunscreens:

*Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays. These are typically lighter sunscreens.

*Physical sunscreens (really known as sunblocks) reflect UV rays. Ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are used in physical sunscreens. The usual “thick, white, sticky” feel of sunscreens comes mostly from physical sunscreens.

Water-resistant versus waterproof sunscreens:

*Water-resistant sunscreens maintain their SPF levels after 40 minutes of water exposure.

*Waterproof sunscreens maintain their SPF levels after 80 minutes of water exposure.

The sun’s reflective powers are great:

*17% on sand

*80% on snow

Remember, no sun is safe sun. And, you earn the skin you’re in!

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