All the sunscreen in the world won’t get you completely off the hook from the sun’s damaging rays. Skincancer.org does a great job of taking the mystery out of sun exposure and skin cancer.
To make it easier, we’ve summed up the most surprising (and important) facts about sunscreen and skin cancer below:
1. No sunscreen blocks all UV rays. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 filters out 93 percent of UVB rays, while sunscreen with an SPF of 30 blocks about 97 percent.
2. Even if you slather on the sunscreen properly, your skin is still being damaged by the sun. To achieve the full sun-shielding effects of sunscreen, you have to use at least an ounce each time you apply it. Even if you’re a sunscreen-slathering professional, sun protective clothing can shield your skin more completely.
3. Chemical sunscreens are only effective for up to 2 hours before they need to be reapplied. The chemicals in sunscreens get used up as they convert UV rays into heat in order to prevent them from damaging your skin. The more sun you get, the more often you have to reapply sunscreen. Physical sunscreens, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, provide a reflective surface that doesn’t deteriorate from sun exposure, but all sunscreens get rubbed off as you lounge around, swim, put on and remove clothing and sweat. All sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours.
4. Sunburn is only a sign of UVB damage. You can’t see the signs of UVA damage immediately. It’s the UVB rays that make your skin red, but the signs of UVA damage don’t show up until much later. UVA damage can appear as wrinkles and sun spots years later. Some experts believe that UVA rays can even intensify the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays, increasing your risk of skin cancer if you’re exposed to both. Don’t wait until you get a sunburn to protect your skin. Wear sun protective clothing year-round to prevent premature aging and skin cancer even when you’re in your car or doing yoga in your sunroom.
5. Melanoma, a type of cancer that starts with the skin cells that make pigment, is the second-most common type of cancer in 15 to 29-year-olds. Even children can get skin cancer, and research suggests that one bad burn can increase your risk of skin cancer by about 50%. You’re not invincible, especially when it comes to sun exposure. The good news is that you can use sun protective clothing for infants to adults. Even before a child is six months old, the recommended age to begin using sunscreen, they can stay protected with sun protective clothing.
6. Melanoma doesn’t necessarily look like a mole. Nodular melanoma can look like a clear or skin-colored bump, making it more difficult to detect than a radial melanoma, which often has a darker color or a different texture than the surrounding skin. Getting your skin checked twice a year by a dermatologist can help reduce your risk of skin cancer.
7. Your skin can be affected by scattered sunlight even when you’re in the shade. If there is visible sunlight, it’s reaching you even if you’re lounging under a tree. UVB rays can be scattered by clouds. They can also reflect off of water, sand and concrete. If you’re under an umbrella and can still see the sky, the sun’s rays can still damage your skin.
8. UVA rays can penetrate glass, damaging the DNA in your skin cells. More than half of skin cancers show up on the left side of the body. Even while you’re driving, the rays that get through the window are damaging to your skin. What’s worse is that you can’t see the damage. Wearing sun protective clothing is a quick and easy way to stay covered even when you’re in the car.
Although some adults assume it’s too late to get started with sun protection, especially if they suffered through several severe sunburns as a child, you get less than 25% of your total sun exposure during childhood. You can lower your risk of skin cancer by protecting yourself every time you’re outdoors. Cabana Life sun protective clothing is one way to make sure that your skin stays protected whether you’re out in full sunlight, hanging out in the shade or seemingly safe on the other side of a window.