Busting common skin protection myths

We know we should protect our skin when we’re spending long amounts of time in the sun, but what about when it’s cloudy? Or if you’re someone who tans easily?

In Australia we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world so when it comes to protecting our skin, it’s important to have all the facts. We dive into six common sun protection myths to separate fact from fiction.

MYTH 1: You can’t get burnt on windy, cloudy or cool days

Sun damage is caused by UV radiation and has nothing to do with heat or wind, which means it is possible to get sunburnt even when it’s not sunny. UV rays can penetrate some clouds or even be more intense on cloudy days due to the reflection off clouds.

Cancer Council SA recommend checking the UV forecast wherever you get your weather and protecting your skin when the UV is 3 and above.

MYTH 2: Sunscreen is not necessary if your cosmetics include an SPF

Unless your cosmetics have a rating of SPF30 and above it’s likely you’ll also need a separate sunscreen, especially if you’re planning to be in the sun for long periods of time. You may find too that the amount of cosmetic product required for adequate protection is much more than you would normally wear. For longer periods in the sun choose a product with an SPF of 30 and above and remember to reapply regularly.

MYTH 3: You can stay in the sun longer with an SPF50 than an SPF30

It may sound like a big difference, but according to Cancer Council SA SPF50 products will offer slightly better protection from UVB radiation, or medium length sun rays, than a SPF30. The difference is more about how much UV radiation the sunscreen filters rather than the length of time it offers protection. While SPF30’s filter out about 96.7% of UV radiation, a SPF50 will filter out about 98%.

It’s recommended even with a SPF50 sunscreen to reapply every two hours as well as after swimming, exercising or towel drying.

MYTH 4: You need plenty of sun exposure to avoid a Vitamin D deficiency

When UV levels are 3 and above, most Australian’s will get enough Vitamin D in just a few minutes, or in the time it takes to walk to your car or the shops. Research suggests that increasing the time spent in the sun beyond this without sun protection doesn’t significantly raise Vitamin D levels but can increase the risk of sun damage and skin cancer.

If you’re concerned about your Vitamin D levels, speak with your doctor about your concerns and potential signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency.

MYTH 5: If you tan easily, you don’t need to worry about sun protection

Skin darkening is a sign of skin cells in trauma, even if there’s no signs of redness or peeling. The skin does this to try and protect itself from further damage, therefore even if you’re someone who tans easily it’s still important to protect your skin.

MYTH 6: You can’t get burnt through a car window

Un-tinted windows may reduce UV radiation but it’s unlikely they will completely block them which means you can still get sunburnt by spending a long period of time in a car when the UV is high. Play it safe and protect your skin.

Keeping your skin in check

Looking after your skin is about more than what you do while you’re in the sun. Regular skin checks at home and with a professional can help keep an eye on small changes before they become big issues. Learn more about skin checks on our blog here.

If you have concerns about the wellbeing of your skin and the best way to protect yourself from sun damage, we recommend speaking with your doctor or healthcare professional.

Sources: Cancer SA