While many American women give themselves an “A” grade when it comes to taking care of their teeth or eyes, only 21% felt they deserved such a high score when it comes to taking care of their skin in the sun. More than 50% of women grade themselves a “C” or lower for sun care habits, according to a survey commissioned by L’Oréal Paris, in partnership with the Melanoma Research Alliance.
The survey also revealed that most women are unaware of the importance of applying sunscreen anytime they’re outdoors – not just in the summer or in direct sunlight. Yet, a significant number of women said they dislike the texture and smell of sunscreen products, or don’t like the way they make their skin look.
With summer fast approaching in the United States, if you haven’t yet read the 8 top sun safety myths, now would be a good time to do so.
Sun exposure is a leading cause of wrinkles, age spots, freckles, dry, rough “leathery” skin and premature skin aging. If excessive, sun exposure can also lead to the development of skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Among skin cancer, melanoma is the most deadly form, which accounts for less than 2% of cases.
To avoid damaging your skin, most public health agencies recommend wearing protective clothing to shield your skin from the sun or sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 when you’ll be out in the sun. Make sure the sunscreen you choose offers protection against both UVA and UVB ultraviolet lights, as both can lead to skin damage.
You will need to reapply sunscreen often, about every two hours or more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming, to maintain its effectiveness. Even if your makeup has an SPF, you should still take additional steps to protect your delicate facial skin from sun damage, as the amount of sun protection in your makeup may not be enough for daylong protection.
It is typically advised to also avoid staying in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. However, you can also get sunburned at other times, and even when it’s cloudy. On cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can still penetrate your skin, and because many people neglect to cover up on cloudy days, this is when some of the worst sunburns occur.
Avoiding a sunburn is essential, and covering up from excess sun exposure is too, but it’s worth mentioning that there is now emerging evidence that avoiding the sun altogether, including during peak hours, may put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Adequate vitamin D levels have been linked to lower risks of cancer, including melanoma, among other health benefits, so it’s important to effectively balance your vitamin-D needs with your sun care habits.