We’ve shared tips on how to stay safe in the summer sun, but did you know that sun safety extends beyond trying to avoid sunburns? Tanning — even just the slight sun-kissed glow from spending time gardening or taking a walk — can be dangerous.
Let’s debunk five popularly held notions about summer tans:
A little tan is a sign of health
Actually, it’s the opposite. Any coloration from the sun is a sign of damaged skin. A tan is definitely better than a burn, but don’t be fooled that it doesn’t affect the health of your skin.
I’m already tan, so I won’t burn
Similar to the above, if you have a tan, your skin has already seen effects from the sun. It’s true that as you tan, your skin produces pigmentation called melanin to protect against UV rays. But this doesn’t mean that extended time in the sun without protection won’t leave you red and blistered. Even if you have a nice base tan, you need to remember to wear an SPF sunscreen of 30 or more and proper clothing.
SPF 60 is twice as effective as SPF 30 sunscreen
Wrong. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, an SPF of 30 blocks 97-percent of UVB rays. Double the SPF and you’re just getting slightly more protection. No sunscreen can block 100 percent of harmful rays. And no matter the SPF, if you don’t reapply often enough or if you don’t wear enough of it in general, it’s not going to protect you from a burn.
If I wear sunscreen, I’m not going to get enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for our bodies to absorb calcium for strong bones. And spending time in the sun does give you a dose of it. But soaking up the rays is not the only way to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D. Many common foods these days are fortified with the vitamin, such as many brands of cow’s milk, yogurt, orange juice and breakfast cereals
I don’t have to wear sunscreen if I’m in the shade
The sun’s power is stronger than you might think. Even if you plan to stay out of direct sunlight, harmful UV rays can still cause skin damage. The presence of snow and water also increase the effects of UV rays, because they reflect the sunlight. That’s why you see many people just back from ski trips with sunburns. Make sure to apply a good, 30+ SPF at least 15 minutes before entering the sun, and make sure you reapply often.
The sun isn’t your enemy, but it isn’t your friend either. Suntans make your legs look especially nice in that white skirt, but remember that tan comes at a price.