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Fact or fiction: demystifying skin cancer prevention

4/29/2014

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As you can imagine, the Live SunSmart team spends a lot of time researching sun safety and during our research we often come across websites that are sharing incorrect information regarding skin cancer prevention. We see it as our job to keep you informed on all things sun safety, so we compiled a list of the top sun protection myths and debunked them for you.

Myth: You only need to wear sunscreen when you are at the beach or it is sunny.
Truth: You always need to wear sunscreen. UV radiation is invisible to all your senses and it penetrates through the clouds and fog. In fact, up to 80% of the UV rays that cause sun damage penetrate clouds. Daily protection is the best way to protect your health and reduce the risk of premature aging.

Myth: Sunscreen smells bad, is gross and makes your face break out.
Truth: Sunscreen formulas have come a long way in recent years. Most cosmetic companies have recognized the importance of sun protection and created sunscreens that look, feel and smell like regular lotion. Look for sunscreens that are labeled “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic” – these will protect your sensitive skin.

Myth: A base tan is a safe tan.
Truth: Any tan is an unhealthy tan. A tan is the body’s response to injury from UV rays – it is a visual sign that damage has been done. A base tan only provides 3 SPF or less, which provides little future protection. Self-tanners are the only way to look tan safely.  

Myth: Controlled (indoor) tanning is safe tanning.
Truth: Once again, no tan is a safe tan. Tanning beds expose you to intense UV rays and significantly increase your risk of getting skin cancer. In fact, the risk of basal cell carcinoma is increased by 73% if one tans six times per year.

Myth: Waterproof sunscreen doesn’t need to be reapplied
Truth: The FDA no longer allows companies to use the word “waterproof” on sunscreen bottles because they are not waterproof; they are water resistant. Depending on the brand, these sunscreens are typically water resistant for 40-80 minutes. After that you need to reapply. Reapplication is necessary for all sunscreens. It is a good habit to reapply every two hours when in the sun. 

Myth: Being sun safe means staying indoors and not having fun.
Truth: Protecting your skin and being active outdoors are not mutually exclusive. You can do both! You just need to be smart about it. Follow our sun protection advice for those with active lifestyles.

Be aware of the damage the sun can do, but don’t fear it. You can have fun in the sun without the burns or wrinkles as long as you are SunSmart.