6 Common Sun Myths That Harm Your Skin

1 in 5 Americans Will Develop Skin Cancer

Think tanning beds are safer than lying out in the sun? That you shouldn’t use too much sunscreen, or all sunscreens are the same? That you don’t need to bother with sunscreen on a cloudy day? As we enter the summer season, more people than ever will be exposing themselves to the sun’s rays. We set the record straight on common myths about sun, sunscreen and skin cancer.

mom applying sunsreen to daughter at beachMyth: A suntan is healthy.

Fact: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays harms the DNA of skin cells. In response, the skin darkens in an attempt to prevent further DNA damage. Any tan indicates damage to your skin. The more sun you get, the more likely you are to develop certain skin cancers, no matter your skin tone.

Myth: A suntan protects against sunburn.

Fact: Researchers have found that tanned skin, depending on your skin type, offers an SPF of no more than 3. This means that a tan caused by UV exposure provides only minimal protection against sunburn. A sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher is required for proper protection from sun damage.

Myth: Tanning beds are safer than tanning outdoors.

Fact: Tanning beds use fluorescent bulbs that emit UVA rays three times more intense than those found in natural sunlight. A 2007 study published in the International Journal of Cancer found the use of tanning beds before age 35 boosted one’s risk of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, by 75%. Whether the UV radiation comes from a tanning bed or sunlight, it has been linked to skin cancer.

Myth: All sunscreens are the same.

Fact: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should use sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher and provides broad-spectrum coverage against both UVA and UVB light.

Myth: Too much sunscreen causes vitamin D deficiency.

Fact: Even if you are wearing sunscreen, small amounts of UV radiation still reach your skin, which is sufficient to stimulate your body to produce enough vitamin D. Children and adults can also get adequate amounts of this nutrient by eating vitamin D-fortified foods, such as milk and orange juice.

Myth: You don’t need sunscreen when it’s cloudy or cool outside.

Fact: The sun’s rays reach the ground no matter the weather or temperature. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of harmful UV rays can pass through and penetrate your skin. A high percentage of UV radiation also reflects off snow, sand and water, so you should wear sunscreen even during the winter or when under an umbrella at the beach.

Get Skin Help at RediClinic

RediClinic encourages you to practice sun safety this summer. For treatment of a serious sunburn, rashes and other common skin conditions, visit your nearest RediClinic walk-in clinic. Each health clinic is staffed by board-certified clinicians and open seven days a week, with no appointment needed.