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Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

Shunning the Sun
9 Sun Myths, Busted!

Shunning the Sun
Using sunscreen or sunblock with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 every day is the first step in protecting yourself from the sun. Sunscreens and sunblocks both protect your skin from the sun. The difference is in how they do it. Sunscreens absorb the sun's rays. Sunblocks block the sun's rays. Both work well, but sunblock might be better at protecting you from UVA and UVB rays. Sunblock may also be a better choice for your face because the ingredients are less likely to cause a reaction like stinging or red bumps. Here are other ways to stay safe in the sun:
  • Avoid being outside in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. True, this seems like the whole day, but it's easier than you think to dodge the sun. For example, if you're headed to the beach for the day, don't get up early. Instead, sleep in and get there later (it's less crowded anyway) and camp out under an umbrella until the sun's rays aren't as harsh.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when possible. When it comes to protecting your skin, the more coverage the better.
  • Wear a hat with a brim. Baseball hats are better than nothing, but a hat with a wide brim all around is best. That's because your ears and the back of your neck stay protected, too.
  • Wear sunglasses. Not only will you look cool, you'll be protecting your eyes from the sun. Lots of exposure to the sun can cause eye problems, including cataracts.
  • Reflect on reflections. Remember that snow, sand, and water reflect the sun back onto you, making it even more intense. So always protect yourself, especially when skiing or snowboarding.
  • Make an altitude adjustment. When you're high up (like in Colorado or on a mountain) you are closer to the sun's rays. That makes it easier for them to do their damage. So sunscreen is just as important on the mountain as it is on the beach.
  • Some medications, like birth control pills, antidepressants, and some antibiotics, can make you extra sensitive to the sun. Always ask your health professional how a new medicine mixes with the sun. back to top
Sun Facts
  • Sun damage adds up as you get older. Your tan may fade and your sunburn may go away, but the damage doesn't.
  • By the time you turn 18, you may have gotten up to 80% of your lifetime sun exposure. That's why now is the time to start protecting your skin.
  • The sun causes 90% of skin cancers.

9 Sun Myths, Busted!
Sometimes it can be hard to tell what's true and what's not about the sun. Here are the most common sun myths and the real story behind them.
  • Myth 1. There is such a thing as a healthy tan.
    Fact: No way, Jose. A tan means your skin is damaged. That's not healthy. Enough said.
  • Myth 2. It's a good idea to get a "base" tan before you go on vacation.
    Fact: Since a tan isn't good for your skin, getting a base tan isn't good for it either.
  • Myth 3. Tanning beds aren't bad for you.
    Fact: Tanning beds are just as bad for you, if not worse, than the sun. Just like the sun, they increase your chance of getting skin cancer. Plus, they damage your skin and practically guarantee a wrinkly future.
  • Myth 4. Wearing a sunscreen or sunblock means you can stay out in the sun all day.
    Fact: This one is tough. It seems that as long as you wear sunscreen or sunblock, it would be okay to stay in the sun all day. But that's not the case. Wearing sunscreen or sunblock is just one of many ways to protect your skin and it's not enough by itself. Hats, umbrellas, and long clothes should be used along with sunscreen or sunblock.
  • Myth 5. You can't get burned on a cloudy day.
    Fact: Not true, my friends. At least 80% of the sun's rays reach us on cloudy days. That's plenty to do damage.
  • Myth 6. Clothing is enough protection against the sun.
    Fact: Clothing offers some sun protection, but not nearly as much as you might think. And a wet, light-colored T-shirt offers almost no protection.
  • Myth 7. If you have dark skin, you don't need sunblock.
    Fact: Everyone should wear sunblock or sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. True, darker skin has more natural protection than lighter skin, but it still needs lots of protection. Just like light-skinned people, dark-skinned people are at risk for skin cancer, wrinkles, and permanent skin damage.
  • Myth 8. If you're in the car you don't need sun protection.
    Fact: Nope. The sun's rays can go through car windows. That's why everyday sun protection is a must.
  • Myth 9. You don't need to worry about sun protection in the winter.
    Fact: You should protect your skin from the sun all year round, especially if you live in an always-warm place like Florida. Sun protection is also very important on the ski slopes since the sun's rays are stronger when you're high up. back to top
Last Modified Date: 3/22/2001
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