Summer is that special season in which we all change our game plan. Though most of us still work everyday, we feel more relaxed and try to survive in the heat. How? By adopting some strategies that we think work and would take care of our skin, now it’s exposed to the sun and the high temperatures. However, some – or most – of those strategies we think are actually doing something good to preserve ourselves, are just myths, and do not help at all. Some of them are obvious, some others, surprising. Read on to find out what we are doing right, and which ones are just “summer legends”.
Everyday we are exposed to the sun and its ultraviolet rays. According to the CDC (Center for Disease and Control Prevention), skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. That leads us to believe that most people still do not follow the rules of good sunbathing or skincare despite the tons and tons of articles and studies shown on the media proving over and over that the sun is not good for you. Still, people seem to be uninformed about the topic.
Some think that because their complexion is dark, they do not get sunburned. And it’s not true. The misconception lies on the fact that, even though fair skin does it a lot faster than dark skin, all skin tones get sunburned. The thing is, people with darker complexion get diagnosed with skin cancer later in life, as the American Academy of Dermatology reports. This can be dangerous, as the treatment could potentially be less effective.
So you are one of those who do not lay in the sun for hours because you know the sun is bad for your skin. However, you love that tan color so much that you compensate by getting a tan at a tanning salon, which you think does not damage your skin. Well, guess what? You haven’t heard the news over the past 15 years saying that a tanning bed or lamp is as damaging as the sun! It was a lot more popular in the ‘90s and first half of the ‘00s, but some people still go to the tanning salon. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that all tans are the product of ultraviolet (UV) rays touching your skin, so it doesn’t really matter where it comes from. Some places offer spray tans, but it really makes you look orange, not tan. For your skin to glow while keeping it healthy, try self-tanners or bronzers. It will look more natural.
A day at the beach or a party at the pool. Awesome! “Just sunscreen PSF 30 all over my body and I will be fine”, you might think. Right? Wrong! Unless the sunscreen has UV protection (check for a UPF label when you buy sunscreen), you can still get sunburn. Surprised? Well, check this out. If you thought that wearing long sleeves would protect you from the sun, you are partially right. Turns out, UV rays go through your clothes! Yep, so if you are planning on staying under the sun for several hours, make sure you wear clothing that says UPF 30 or higher, as the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends. This option is even offered in some swimwear.
Just as the UV go through your clothes, they go through the clouds as well. Hasn’t it happened to you before, coming back from a cloudy day at the beach and by that night seeing that you got yourself some pink skin? Well, you were not crazy! The CDC assures that you can definitely get a sunburn even on the cloudiest days. And it’s even more shocking to know that the reflection of the sun rays on the water doubles – or even triples – the chances of sunburns, as they do in snow, cement, sand and even through windows. We are trapped on this one. So we might as well try to fight it the best way we can, don’t you think?
To conclude, let us tell you something we have recently found out about sunscreen protection. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has changed the sunscreen labels. It has been announced, but unfortunately it hasn’t been promoted enough – if at all. This means that, while it used to be common knowledge that a sunscreen with SPF 15 was enough to be protected from the sun – and from there, the more SPF, the more protection you got. Now, in order to have full protection you should not wear sunscreen with SPF below 50. The FDA also recommends looking for the brands with “Broad Spectrum” on the label, as they will have full protection against UVA and UVB rays. And apply, apply, apply as many times as possible – or at least every two hours.
So, this is good to know for everyone, but we would like to give some advice. Make sure you take these myths out of your head and replace them with these tips. As a final note, make sure you have a checkup for skin cancer every month (ideally). It’s better to prevent than to find it when it is too late.