Let us debunk some of these myths that are going around about Sun Safety. Especially with the summer around the corner, it never hurts to get a bit of a reminder what is true and what you should dispel out of your brain pronto.
1. When you’re in the shade, you don’t get sunburned
Unless your shady spot is surrounded by 4 walls, a ceiling and no windows, you will be the prime target for those pesky UV (Ultraviolet) rays. It’s UV radiation that will damage your skin, not sunlight. You might not feel or see it, but it’s definitely there. Although some of the radiation is blocked, the remaining UV rays have this ninja ability to find the skin even in shade, due to the ability to reflect itself from different surfaces, like water, sand and even grass. Although it’s not sufficient protection on its own, its part of the sun smart mix along with clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. So make sure to find some shade, especially between 10am-4pm.
2. You won’t get burnt on a cloudy or cool day
Well, some scientists actually have a theory that on certain cloudy days the UV radiation can even be stronger due to them reflecting off the clouds back to earth, figure that. Reflection or no reflection, UV radiation can penetrate clouds and therefore cause sunburn even on cloudy, cold and windy days. Download the sunscreen smart app to check what the UV index is at any time in your area.
3. All Sunscreens are created equal
Not quite. From mineral to zinc sunscreens, to skin types and activities, there are many things to consider when looking for a good sunscreen. At a minimum check the label for the following 3 things;
- Broad Spectrum indicates that the sunscreen protects against both Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). They both affect the skin differently, where UVA is known to cause skin ageing (no, thank you), UVB is linked to skin burning (ouch).
- The SPF rating indicates how well it protects against UVB. Let’s say if you have a SPF30+ rating it means in ‘loose’ terms that it would take 30 times longer to get a sunburn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. Disclaimer, this is when you don’t sweat or wash it off first. Is SPF50+ rating much better then? Only marginally, SPF30+ allows 3% of the UVB to go through, and with SPF50+ this is 2%.
- Further, make sure it’s water resistant so you stay protected when in the water or when exercising. Just make sure to re-apply when you come out of the water or dry yourself off.
The cancer council recommends wearing a SPF30+ or higher and ensure to apply 20 min before you go out in the sun and reapply after 2 hours.
4. A tan that builds up over time will protect from sunburn
Uhm, no. A tan is your skin’s reaction to UV damage so a build-up tan - or base tan - is more like layering on the damages as you go. Over time this will increase your risk of skin cancer. When UV radiation hits your skin, it will produce skin pigment, also called melanin. This is what makes your skin darker. Melanin only provides you with a sun protection equivalent of SPF3/4, so not even close to the sun protection you need at any given time.
Unfortunately there’s no such thing as a safe, healthy tan.
5. I need vitamin D
Sunscreen and/or other sun protection will stop me from getting enough sun exposure for my body to create Vitamin D! It’s true that Vitamin D is something we need for healthy bones and is an important mood lifter, but we only need it in truly small doses. So only a few minutes with your hands or feet out in the morning or late afternoon sun would do the trick.
6. Darker skins don’t get sunburnt
It’s true, they don’t get sunburnt that easily, but they definitely can get sunburned! People that have darker skins, have a higher skin pigment melanin which protects the skin to a certain degree. Although their chances of getting a sunburn is less, dark-skinned people are susceptible to getting sunburns with all its consequences. It might not be as obvious that they are sunburned, but they still feel the pain, tightness, sensitivity, heat and the peeling off.
7. Sunscreen is the best way to protect myself from the sun
Sunscreen is really only a small part of the sun protection mix. Other sun protection factors provide a far better way keeping those UV rays at bay. Find some shade, wear sun-protective clothing, put on a hat (these are just too adorable!), and pop on some sunnies. Plop some sunscreen on any remaining parts that are still exposed, put on a smile and you are good to go!