As we enter Skin Cancer Awareness Month and slowly begin venturing outside it is important to know the myths and facts behind sun care. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and also one of the most preventable and treatable when detected early. While that sounds nice, Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, can spread to other parts of your body resulting in more risks as you undergo treatment for those cancers. It is best to know your facts to prevent skin cancer and save your skin from painful sunburn.
Myth - Base Tan Prevents Sunburn and Skin Cancer
Being tan is always in. For some reason society feels that turning our skin a nice golden color makes us more attractive. I think I look better with a tan too. Prior to vacation we hit the tanning beds, or we lay out for a few days to get the base tan going before we hit the beach. Neither method is safe for our skin, nor do they prevent skin cancer and they surely won’t prevent sunburn. But hey, we look good because we’re rocking the golden tan the moment our toes hit the sand. A few hours later we’re red as a lobster and we find out that base tan didn’t save us. So essentially we put ourselves at risk while working on that base tan when we thought it would prevent us from further sun damage. The good news is we can achieve that base tan golden look while staying healthy at the same time by using a sunless tanner like Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tan Mousse to get your skin to that level before showing it off to the world. Once outdoors remember to wear sunscreen and reapply every two hours or immediately after being in the water.
Myth - If You Never Burn You Don’t Need Sunscreen
Some people, especially those with darker complexions, never sunburn. Not sunburning is a false sense of security when it comes to skin damage. There is no such thing as a safe tan. Your skin turning tan is actually a sign of sun damage which still puts you at risk of skin cancer. Think of it as skipping the burn and going straight to charred. That’s what tan skin is. Doesn’t sound so beautiful anymore, does it? So while you may think you are lucky that you can soak up the rays without turning pink, you should still wear sunscreen.
Myth - You Need The Sun for Vitamin D
I used to be a big believer of this. I was raised in Wisconsin, we had a total of 3 months of sunshine it seemed. Fall, Winter and Spring blended together in one dreary season. We’re stuck indoors for months and we really lack energy and focus during those months. We’re vitamin D deficient. Fast forward to a few years ago when I relocated to always sunny south Texas. I’m outside more than I ever have been in my life and it is so exhilarating. It has to be due to all vitamin D from the sun, right? 100% wrong. I had to have bloodwork done a year after enjoying the sun and guess what? Vitamin D deficient. The words “but I’m outside in the sun everyday!”, came out of my mouth to my doctor. His words “The sun doesn’t provide you with enough vitamin D to overcome a deficiency, it only increases your risk of skin cancer”. So while the sun does provide some vitamin D, it just isn’t enough to prevent deficiency. A safer practice would be to seek shade, take a supplement, and incorporate some vitamin D rich foods into your diet.
Fact - Practicing Safe Sun Helps Prevent Skin Cancer
Ding ding ding! This is the winner. Practicing safe sun care and limiting your UV exposure reduces your risk of skin cancer. How do you practice safe sun care?
1. Wear sun-protective clothing when outdoors. Wear a large hat to protect your face and scalp, sunglasses, and long sleeve shirts when possible. There are many lightweight shirts on the market to protect your skin in the warmer months. Some clothes even include a UPF rating that specifically shields the sun’s harmful UV rays.
2. Wear a SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen. Apply to all skin not covered by clothing and remember to reapply every two hours and after being in the water or sweating. This also applies to your face. While makeup products often do have an SPF protection, they simply are not protective enough and you also are not reapplying your makeup every 2 hours. DCL Super Sheer Sunscreen has an SPF 50 and it dries with a matte finish making it an excellent primer before applying your makeup.
3. Get more shade. The sun’s rays are the strongest between the hours of 10am and 2pm. Try and enjoy some sunshine during the non-peak hours and if you are going to be outside opt for an umbrella or shady tree to protect you from overexposure.
Fact - You Can Self-Exam At Home
The American Academy of Dermatology Association encourages regular self-exams for early detection. They have a great guide on their website to help you through the exam and what to look for. Should you see anything suspicious you should visit your physician. If you are feeling uneasy about heading into a clinic right now, there are teledoc options and they will also be able to detect if you need to head in to have it tested. Remember skin cancer is treatable with early detection.
So as you venture out and are practicing social distancing, and that sunshine feels really good, remember to also practice safe sun care. Follow us on Instagram for skincare tips, product reviews and features.