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8 Common Excuses for Skipping Sunscreen Debunked

Friends don’t let friends make excuses for not wearing sunscreen

Here at Fuse, we are all about eye protection. Our lenses will keep your eyes, and even the skin around your eyes, safe from harmful UV rays. This effectively protects you from melanoma of the eye, and other dangerous effects from UV exposure from the sun. But, what about the rest of you? In honor of Sunscreen Day (a.k.a "Don't Fry Day"), here are some common sunscreen excuses that you should never let damage your skin. 

“A base tan protects you.” 

This excuse is probably one of the most common ones. However, a tan is literally your body showing its UV damage. When cells are exposed to UV light, they start producing more melanin, the pigment that colors your skin. That pigment is a signal that the damage has already been done. There is a slight bit of truth to this excuse - a tan does offer some protection, around an SPF equivalent of 4. But, you are better off just throwing on a T-shirt, which gives you SPF 7 protection, without the added skin damage. Even if you are going out with the intention of tanning, you can still wear sunscreen to protect yourself and still achieve a golden hue.

Back of woman with sunburn and tan lines
A sunburn or tan is your skin showing that it's damaged from the sun.

“I have dark skin.”” 

Even if you have a good level of melanin in your skin already, you're still not immune to the fireball in the sky. While there is a lower risk, around 30 percent of darker-skinned participants in a CDC study reported having at least one sunburn in the previous year. In fact, because of this common misconception, skin cancer is often more dangerous to people of color. This is because skin cancer is frequently diagnosed later or even misdiagnosed, making it more difficult to treat. A famous case of a misdiagnosis is singer Bob Marley who sadly died from melanoma on his toe that was misdiagnosed as a soccer injury. 

"It's cloudy outside."

Also another common misconception, cloudy skies do not stop the sun’s harmful rays. Anyone who has ever braved the beach sans-sunscreen on a cloudy day can definitely tell you that you can still get burned. It's estimated that around 40 percent of the sun's rays penetrate through clouds and can even reach you through windows. In fact, I personally got one of my worst sunburns ever during a cloudy day on the lake.

Scenic Picture of boat on reflective, clear water
Going out in peak hours (between 10 am and 4 pm) and to locations with a lot of reflection (like on the water) can expose you to even more harmful rays.

“Your body needs Vitamin D it gets from the sun.”

If you are that worried about Vitamin D, you’re better off with supplements. Most people do not apply sunscreen well enough to block the skin from producing Vitamin D. Also, after as little as 5 minutes in the sun, your body overloads and stops the production of Vitamin D. If it didn’t do this, the Vitamin D would actually reach toxic levels! Furthermore, tanned doesn’t equate to healthy, even in Vitamin D levels. Studies of Hawaiian surfers found that even though all participants were tanned, many were Vitamin D deficient.

“I put some on this morning.””

Did you know that most people do not use enough sunscreen to stay safe? In fact, SPF 50 protection often winds up more like SPF 20 because of our inability to use it correctly. This is why many people still do get tanned, even with higher SPF sunscreens. For most adults, one ounce of sunscreen is needed (that’s about a shot glass’ worth of sunscreen for all my party animals out there). Then, you need to allow the sunscreen to soak in for around 15 minutes before stepping out into the sun’s rays. Sunscreen should also be re-applied every two hours. Even sunscreen that boasts all-day protection or sweat/water-proof features needs to be reapplied. Waterproof sunscreens start to lose effectiveness after around 40 minutes of perspiring or swimming.

"I covered my face."

But what about the rest of you?! Many people will regularly coat their face in sunscreen. While this is effective to reduce signs of aging on the most noticeable part of your body, the sun still ages you everywhere else! Furthermore, cancer develops everywhere. Commonly sunscreen-coated areas are the legs, arms, and back, but cancer appears beyond these places as well. Many patients have developed skin cancer on their scalps, ears, lips, tops of their feet, back of their hands, and so on. Anywhere that is exposed to the sun is in danger. “

Hat and designer sunglasses left in sand on beach
Sunglasses, hats, and UPF rated clothing are other great ways to protect yourself from the sun besides just sunscreen.

“Sunscreen causes cancer!””

There are studies that produced findings that bred the idea of sunscreen causing cancer, but they exposed rats to sunscreen at unrealistic levels. If, every single day, you applied SPF 30 sunscreen liberally to your entire body, it would take around 35 years to reach the levels of exposure the rats experienced over the course of the experiment. Furthermore, with tens of millions of people wearing all different kinds of sunscreen across the world, we would know if there was a mass sunscreen-induced cancer breakout by now. Basically, even if this one were true, not wearing sunscreen definitely causes more cancer. If you are iffy about your sunscreen: always check expiration dates and ingredients, wear chemical-free UPF rated clothing, and stay out of the sun at peak hours (from about 10 am to 4 pm). 

Summary

No matter what your excuse is, don't let it stop you from protecting yourself! Some of the most common excuses used to avoid putting on sunscreen are actually huge misconceptions! Clouds, tans, and darker skin don’t really help protect you from the sun, and sunscreen is seriously your best friend. While skin cancer might not seem like a big deal, it definitely can become one. Stay safe on your sunny adventures and always make sure to use sunscreen to protect your skin and sunglasses to protect your eyes! 



Read More: Skin Cancer Foundation

 


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