Growing up in South Florida meant that I was at the beach year round. Add my 12 year stint as a competitive swimmer and six year long lifeguard career to the mix and it’s safe to say that I’ve had my fair share of sun. Believe me, I’ve heard it all when it comes to, what I like to call, sunlore: those sun & skin facts you hear all your life, but no one can justify where they came from or if they are true. When you live in the land of unrelenting sun, you just believe these facts are the truth, continuously passed on from one sun worshiper to the next in a vicious cycle.
It’s time to come clean. Let’s take a look at 6 of the most common sun facts out there and see just how true they really are.
“People with dark skin don’t have to worry….”
False. Dark skinned individuals need to be just as sun-savvy as anyone else. A Reader’s Digest post stated that having a darker pigment may reduce chances of skin cancer, but that doesn’t render immunity. Because sunburn, peeling or moles may not be as prevalent with dark skin, melanoma won’t be detected till much later once it’s progressed to a serious stage. Wear them hats and slather on that sunscreen people!
“High SPF Sunscreens are a waste of money”
False. Well, sort of. The effects of higher SPF sunscreens is still being observed. But, a good rule of thumb is to not fully rely only on that bold number, but more on how well you apply sunscreen and how much. For example, applying a shot glass size of 30 SPF over your entire body regularly and reapplying after excessive sweating or water time can be more beneficial than applying a small squirt of 50 SPF just once. Stick to 30 SPF for daily use and 50 SPF for excessive sun exposure, and by golly, don’t skimp on the application!
“I should go to a tanning salon before going on vacation so I won’t get sunburned”
Not true and not very smart. Already having a tan doesn’t protect you from sun damage, it just means that your skin is already damaged. Also, tanning beds offer a different kind of tan utilizing UVA rays (but not sun rays) to darken skin quickly. Hence, once you are out in the actual, real-life sun, it is possible to still get burned.
But, if a tan is what you are trying to achieve while ditching the burn, then here’s a myth you’ll like to see busted….
“If I wear sunscreen then I won’t get a tan”
False. Sunscreen doesn’t work like a full body bubble suit that blocks out the sun completely. It shields against harmful rays that burn and cause cancer and aging, but exposure to the sun will still bring out that tan. If you are not prone to burning, feel free to use a lower SPF, but don’t go any lower than SPF 20. Generally, a good base is SPF 30 for tanning.
Add a layer of tanning oil after sunscreen to help darken skin even more.
“It’s cloudy outside, I won’t get sunburned”
NOPE. Have you ever gone out on a cloudy day without sunscreen and found yourself burned to a bright red crisp? You better grab that sunscreen and start spritzing, because that almighty sun may be hidden by thick cloud coverage, but its rays are beaming through to your delicate epidermis. Medical Daily reported that 40 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate through clouds and even reach you while driving a vehicle or sitting in the office.
“Sunscreen stays fresh forever”
Fallacy. Just like makeup products or food from the grocery store, everything has an expiration date. Sunscreen is one of those to keep an eye on, because it begins to lose maximum freshness and SPF validity after around two weeks. Some creams will have an expiration date printed on the bottle, if not, jot down the date of purchase with a permanent marker. The Skin Cancer Foundation’s website claims that on average, sunscreens kept in suitable environments can last up to three years. This means avoiding exposure to heat (such as leaving it in a hot car), and store at room temperature instead.