Debunking Summer Skincare Myths

With the thought of summer vacations and sunny days being just around the corner, keeping your skin protected isn’t always top of mind. While most know the importance of sunscreen and the dangers of excessive tanning, there are many myths about sun exposure that could cause further damage to your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Harbin Clinic Dermatologists encourage everyone to prioritize protecting their skin from sun damage this summer. To help get your skin summer-ready, here are some common misconceptions about sun protection and skin damage.

Myth: Sun damage isn’t possible on a windy/cloudy/cool day.

Fact: Sun damage is caused by UV rays, not the temperature, meaning you can damage your skin even on cooler days. Instead of judging sun exposure by the temperature, check the UV index instead. Also, clouds work as a reflector for UV rays, intensifying them and increasing your chances of damaging your skin.

 

Myth: I don’t need sunscreen if I’m going to be in my house or car.

Fact: Although glass can reduce the transmission of UV rays, it does not completely block them out. You can still damage your skin by sun exposure through a car window if the windows are not UV tinted or if you are by the window for a long time, such as road trips.

 

Myth: If you tan but don’t burn, you don’t need to wear sunscreen.

Fact: Regardless of skin tone and type, UV exposure can permanently damage the skin for everyone. While people with darker skin have more melanin that can add slight protection from UV rays, they are still at risk of burning, peeling, developing skin cancer, and prematurely aging. Darker skin also makes it more difficult to identify skin damage, leading to serious damage and skin cancer not being identified until the late stages.

 

Myth: I won’t get skin cancer because I’m young.

Fact: Young adults are just as likely as other age groups to have skin cancer. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in young adults ages 25-29. Additionally, people who use tanning beds before they’re 35 increase their risk for Melanoma by 75%.

 

Myth: You can’t get sunburned in the shade.

Fact: Since UV rays are what damages your skin and not the sunlight or temperature, you’re still at risk for burning while in the shade. UV rays reflect off surfaces like sand, water, and even grass, leaving you still exposed.

 

Myth: Fake tan darkens the skin and protects it from the sun.

Fact: Although an artificial tan does darken your skin, it does not increase your skin’s resilience to UV exposure. Sunscreen should always be applied over a fake tan, even if there is already SPF in the artificial tanner.

 

Myth: I used to sunbathe when I was younger, so it’s too late for me.

Fact: It’s never too late for skin protection. Although pre-existing damage can’t be reversed, implementing sun-protective skincare habits can halt the development of any further damage. Sun protection is effective at every age. 

 

Myth: I need Vitamin D.

Fact: Sun exposure does give you Vitamin D, but it doesn’t take as much as some people think. Exposing your arms and face in the sun for a few minutes is all you need to meet your daily requirements of Vitamin D. The short walk to your car in the morning or the mailbox is enough to provide you with the Vitamin D your body needs.

 

Myth: A tan improves my appearance.

Fact: 80% of visible age is caused by unprotected sun exposure. Sun damage can result in premature aging with wrinkles, dark spots, and white splotches. Artificial tanner is a non-damaging option to darken your complexion without having to worry about prematurely aging your skin.

 

Myth: If I get a base tan, I’ll be less likely to burn.

Fact: There is no such thing as a tan that prevents sunburn or provides additional UV protection. When the skin darkens due to tanning, it’s a result of the skin trying to protect itself due to the sun damaging live cells. A base tan is not a substitute for SPF.

Although skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, it’s also the most preventable. Amid these skincare myths, it’s crucial to understand the causes, the risks, and how to protect yourself. While enjoying your time in the sun this summer, be mindful of your sun exposure and skin health.