JUL 11, 2017 4:00 PM PDT

Are You Guilty of Believing these Sun Myths?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

We all know the dangers of sun damage on the skin. But when it comes to sun protection, we often fall short of the recommendations. And sometimes, it's because we put too much value on myths that don't actually do anything to protect our skin from the sun.

First up is the myth that sunscreen is only necessary in the winter. Many people skip their SPF when it gets cold, but just because it's cold outside doesn't mean your skin needs any less protection. In fact, "winter skin is more sensitive to sun than tanned summer skin," said Frank Schwanke, a skin researcher for Nivea. Schwanke explained that the pale skin in winter means that we have less melanin to protect against ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As such, "the skin is not only less tanned, but also more sensitive to UV radiation when it comes to a day with a lot of sunshine," said Schwanke.

And the UV rays are still present in the wintertime. The two types of UV radiation are UVA and UVB rays. While UVB rays are weaker when the sun is down or at certain seasons, UVA rays are the same strength at all times of day and all year long. This ray is mostly responsible for skin aging, while UVB is responsible for triggering burning and cancer.

Another myth is that glass somehow protects skin from the sun's harmful rays. This myth is half true - glass does block UVB rays, but UVA rays can still penetrate glass and harm your skin. And exposure to these rays accelerate skin aging, and can also promote skin cancer.

So if you think you're safe without sun protection in a car on a cold but sunny day, think again. Watch the video to learn more sun myths!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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