sun myths: busted!

We’re busting these too-common myths about your skin and the sun for good!

“I put sunscreen on my face. That’s the only place that really matters.”

BUSTED: During a recent interview with Elizabeth Grady instructor and melanoma survivor Michelle LeBlanc, she said “A mistake people make is only protecting their face with sunscreen. I was like that when I was younger. I thought that my face was the only thing that mattered. But all of my melanomas have been on my stomach and legs.” Your face might be the most exposed area of your body during your average week day, but a shot-glass sized amount of sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 is typically recommended for full-body coverage.

“I need to lay out in the sun to get my vitamin D.”

BUSTED: You can get vitamin D from the sun before the peak hours of 10 am-4 pm. Plus, according to the Melanoma Foundation of New England, you only need a few minutes of sun exposure 2-3 times a week to absorb it…not hours unprotected at the beach. There are also plenty of other sources to get vitamin D from, like fish, orange juice, milk and supplements.

“I have naturally olive/dark skin. I don’t need to wear sunscreen.”

BUSTED: Everyone needs sun protection. Olive and deep skin tones are not immune to melanoma or other skin cancers. You may not be “feeling the burn” so to speak, but you are still exposing yourself to cancer-causing UV rays. Wear sunscreen regularly and see a dermatologist once a year for a full body scan. This is especially important for African Americans and those with darker skins. According to the National Cancer Institute, in African Americans, melanomas are most often found under the nails, on the palms of hands, and on the soles of the feet–places that your dermatologist will know to examine.

“It’s cloudy/rainy/snowing. I don’t need sunscreen.”

BUSTED: Don’t be fooled. The sun’s powerful UV rays can still reach you on cloudy days. Additionally, the CDC states that “UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow.” Just because it’s snowing doesn’t mean you don’t have to slather on the SPF.

“I layered my SPF 15 moisturizer with an SPF 25 foundation. That means I actually am wearing an SPF 40!”

BUSTED: Put down the calculator. Layering different products with different levels of sun protection does not mean you can add the two together. You are protected by the highest level you put on. If you are wearing an SPF of 15 layered under an SPF of 25, then you are protected by the SPF of 25.

“The darker the sunglasses, the better the protection.”

BUSTED: According to the FDA, “Do not mistake dark-tinted sunglasses as having more UV protection. The darkness of the lens does not indicate its ability to shield your eyes from UV rays. Many sunglasses with light-colored tints, such as green, amber, red, and gray offer the same UV protection as very dark lenses.” If your sunglasses have 100% UV protection you’re good to go, regardless of the tint of the lens.

“I’ve got a bottle of sunscreen in my car from last summer. I can bring that to the beach with me!”

BUSTED: The active ingredients in sunscreen, AKA the things that protect you from UV rays, have a shelf-life and can easily be destroyed in extreme heat. Two good rules to follow: replace your sunscreen at least once a year, and always toss it if it’s been hanging out in the trunk of your car too long.

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