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Don’t be fooled by these 4 sunscreen myths

“Tans are healthy.”

“A good base tan helps prevent sunburn.”

“Tanning beds are safe.”

“One application of sunscreen is enough.”

Over the years, there have been countless myths about tanning, sunscreen and sun safety. Thankfully, we’re becoming more aware as consumers and as a country about how important it is to protect ourselves from the harmful rays of the sun, and how exactly to go about it.

That being said, not all myths have been eradicated, and there’s a few that we continue to hear popping up around the community.

Here are four sunscreen myths to listen out for:

You don’t need to wear sunscreen on overcast days

It’s recommended that everyone wears sunscreen on days with a UV index of 3 or above. However, you can still have a cloudy or windy day with a high UV index, which means that you can still get sunburnt.

This is because while the clouds may diffuse the sun’s direct light, UVA and UVB rays can still penetrate through the cloud cover. On top of this, there are reflective surfaces like snow and water that can reflect UV radiation, even on cloudy or overcast days.

If you’re in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry and apply sunscreen on cloudy and overcast days. You can check the UV index in your city on the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) website or app, or download the free SunSmart app which can tell you when sun protection is recommended in your location.

People with olive, tanned, or darker skin don’t need to wear sunscreen

People with darker skin have more melanin, a skin pigment produced by skin cells. Because of this, they are better protected from the sun — however, it’s important to note that they are not completely protected, and there is still a level of risk.

For example, the rate of skin cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia (who tend to have darker skin tones) is lower than it is for non-indigenous people, but there are still occurrences of skin cancer.

According to Cancer Council:

“Naturally dark (or olive) skin does not protect against skin cancer. Naturally dark-skinned people do have a lower risk of skin cancer than fair-skinned people. Nevertheless, dark-skinned people still get skin cancer, although their skin cancers may develop in unusual places, for example under their fingernails or on the soles of their feet.”

It’s still important for people with olive or dark skin to protect themselves from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

A higher SPF means you don’t have to reapply as often

Applying a sunscreen with a high SPF such as 50 is a smart choice in protecting yourself against the sun.

However, no matter how high the SPF is, one application in the morning is simply not enough protection for the whole day.

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours if you’re spending time outdoors, and after swimming, sweating or drying yourself with a towel. Even a four-hour water resistant sunscreen needs more frequent application after extreme activity!

It’s also important to reapply sunscreen if you’re travelling in the car, on a bus, or on a plane as you can still get sunburnt through the window.

Another reason to regularly reapply your sunscreen is that many of us miss a spot when putting on sunscreen. In fact, studies have shown that most people miss about 10% of their face when applying sunscreen — so imagine how much you could miss in a full-body application!

You don’t need to cover up if you’re wearing sunscreen

Sunscreen is important in protecting yourself from sun damage, but unfortunately, it still can’t provide 100% protection.

This is for a number of reasons, including that most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen, fail to cover our whole bodies, forget to reapply, and miss spots on our skin. Sunscreen also can’t protect every part of your body, for example, the eyes, which are also vulnerable to damage from UV radiation.

Sunscreen is an important part of sun protection, but it’s not the only part. Cancer Council Australia recommends that when the UV index is 3 or above, you should protect yourself in five ways:

● Slip on sun-protective clothing

● Slop on water-resistant sunscreen - preferably SPF 50

● Slap on a broad-brimmed hat

● Seek shade when possible

● Slide on sunglasses

Remember to choose sunglasses that wrap around and sit close to your face, providing protection for the delicate skin around the eyes, and the eyes themselves. Keep an eye out for the Australian/New Zealand Standard which should be visible on the sunglasses, and choose a style that meets category 2, 3, or 4.

For more information about sun safety for you and your family, speak to your local Capital Chemist pharmacist or check out our Sun Care brochure.

You may also be interested in the following:

How to apply sunscreen properly
How to teach your kids to slip, slop, slap
Should pregnant women stay out of the sun?


Acknowledgement of Country

Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.