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2 Sun protection myths you need to know about

Protect yourself from the sun

Most of us believe that if we put on sunscreen in the morning then stay out on the beach all day long, our skin is protected. Unfortunately, this is incorrect. Learning about proper sun protection and sunscreens will keep you and your skin safe!
Woman applying sunscreen

Myth 1: The sun is bad for you

Fact: No, the sun is not bad for you.

In fact, the sun is healthy if you take precautions. Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths: UVA and UVB. They are quite different in respect of the risk they create for your health. UVB is the "good" sunlight, and UVA is the "bad" one. UVB helps you produce vitamin D, which is extremely important for your overall well-being, supporting the health of your bones, muscles, skin, eyesight, heart and immune system. UVA can cause free radical damage.

Moderation in sun exposure and using proper sun protection are your keys to safety since long-term, excessive exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of certain types of skin cancer.

Myth 2: All sunscreens protect you effectively and safely

Fact: The FDA takes the position that, "To date, there are no clinical studies demonstrating that use of any sunscreen alone can prevent skin cancer." (FDA 2011)

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 75% of sunscreens in stores don't actually protect you enough.

As sun protection against UVA rays is necessary, you need to be educated and watch for those ingredients in sunscreen that can do more harm than good.

The main chemical used in sunscreens is octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), which was found to kill cells in mice, even at low doses. OMC is present in 90 percent of sunscreen products. Another common ultraviolet filter, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, has also demonstrated toxic properties.

Take a good look at your sunscreen label and beware of the following chemicals (they come with names you most likely can't even repeat) that are not really good for you:

  • para amino benzoic acid
  • octyl salicyclat
  • avobenzone
  • oxybenzone
  • cinoxate
  • padimate
  • dioxybenzone
  • homosalate
  • phenylbenzimidazole
  • sulisobenzone
  • menthyl anthranilate
  • trolamine salicyclate
  • octocrylene

Instead, look for sunscreens that base their protective properties on these two major ingredients:

  • titanium dioxide
  • zinc oxide

When both of those ingredients are at a level of 6 percent or higher, you are covered. Green tea extract, aloe extract, shea butter, as well as some other botanical moisturizers will keep your skin from drying.

At this point, you can probably guess what the healthiest sun protection is, right?

Clothing! Yes, using light cover-ups, protective hats, t-shirts, etcetera provides us with the best protection against sunburn and unhealthy chemicals.

More skin cancer protection

Quiz: Are you protecting your kids from skin cancer?
Skin cancer facts

10 most common cancers in the U.S.

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