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10 Misconceptions About The Sun and Sunbathing That Are Gonna Get You BURNED.

Updated on February 27, 2015

As a child, I fondly remember vacationing at the ocean in Maine. For weeks we would lounge on the beach from morning to dusk with the occasional trip back up to the cottage for lunch. Hours would pass as we built castles and swam, ultimately dosing in the afternoon sun before heading home for dinner.

As a teenager, I spent weekends spread upon a silver blanket slathered in baby oil and iodine. It was the thing to do. Being tanned was apart of the cultural norm.

I still enjoy being outdoors, but public opinion regarding sun exposure is different than it was 20 years ago and I have changed considerably since the days of my youth.

Today, a melanoma survivor, I take far more responsible precautions when in the sun. I'd like to think that with increasing awareness, people are better informed and more highly educated to the dangers of the sun, however, I witness countless people making the same mistakes that I made when I was young and I have heard far too many others tell me that their sunburn will quickly "turn to tan".

Even the occasional burn heightens the risk of skin cancer. With a little know-how, skin damage cane be avoided. Here are a few misconceptions, that if better understood, can help prevent you from getting burned.

Do You Apply Sunscreen Every Day?

Are You Protected?

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Let's face it, when we have the time to be outside, enjoying the day, we certainly don't want to have to come back inside smack-dab in the midst of the day, but that's when the sun can be at it's strongest and that means it's at its' most dangerous.

If you're outside and your shadow is short, that is an indication that the sun is right overhead and it is beating down UVB rays. At that time of the day, the sun's rays aren't scattered as much by the ozone layer (we won't get into that discussion here). As a result, your UVB exposure is up to 50 percent higher during this time of the day, unlike the early morning hours or right before dusk. Staying out during this peak time can definitely lead to a late afternoon burn.

You'll need more than a dab of sunscreen to protect your skin. Rather than lather your body with sunscreen, a more accurate term would be to SLATHER it on. In order for you to get the promised SPF protection, you really must apply the lotion liberally.

For example, my dermatologist recommends that I squeeze about a quarter worth onto the palm of my hand. That is a sufficient amount FOR MY FACE.

If you opt to use a spray, mist yourself well. Rub the spray in and then lightly mist yourself once more.

Be sure that you apply sunscreen to the 'forgotten spots', like your underarms, the part in your hair, lips and tops of feet or they're gonna burned.

Here's A Simple Check List For Staying Safe in the Sun:

  • Use a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Check sunscreen ingredients and consult with your doctor before using. Oxybenzone may interfere with hormones and zinc and titanium oxides have been linked to potential reproductive effects. It's best to speak with your doctor and get the facts.
  • Spray carefully. You want to protect your skin, but you'll also want to be careful with spraying sunscreen into the eyes. Also, the FDA is currently investigating the risks, if any, of inhaling spray sunscreens.
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Wear a hat
  • Wear sunglasses

Many people wear baseball hats during the summer. Certainly, a baseball hat will protect the top of your head from too much sun exposure, but it's not going to help protect your ears or your neck. Only a wide-brimmed hat can cast a large enough shadow to protect those areas.

Certainly there are more fashionable sun hats made for women, but depending on your activity outside, there may be other choices for men. While kayaking, I have seen sun hats that have flaps on either side, as well as, a flap for the neck. They can be rather sporty and, more importantly, they'll provide you will adequate safeguards.

The material of the hat is also important. Those hats I just spoke of are often times made of a special SPF fabric.

If hats just aren't in your wardrobe repertoire, be sure to protect your face and neck by using layers of sun protection. Use an SPF moisturizer and sunscreen. And remember to reapply, otherwise, you're gonna burned.

We have ALL seen this: You're at the ocean and a family comes strolling by you and sets up their spot on the beach. Next they unpack their chairs and cooler and spread their blanket. What do they do next? Yep, you guessed it, they start putting on their sunscreen. By the time the chemicals in that sunscreen begin to work, the entire family could be burned.

Sunscreen should be applied BEFORE you even step outside (at least a half hour, to be more exact).

Sunscreen should also be reapplied every few hours or after swimming. Likewise, if you have sweated most of your lotion off.

[Yes, that includes sweat proof and waterproof lotions]

Trust me, or, you're gonna burn.

If that tube of sunscreen has been sitting at the bottom of your beach bag since last year - toss it. Most of the active ingredients in sun lotion begin to break down with time and heat. Be sure to check the expiration date and try to keep the sunscreen out of extreme heat. Don't keep it locked up in the hot car or next to you on the blanket. Stash it in the cooler - will feel good on your scorching skin.

As a precaution, it may not be a bad idea to begin each summer buying a new tube of sunscreen. It's better to be safe, than to burn.

Consumer Reports Recommendations.

All Terrain Aqua Sport Lotion
$4.00 per ounce
Banana Boat Ultra-Mist Sports
$1.63 per ounce
Coppertone Sport Sweat-Proof
$1.67 per ounce
Coppertone Oil-Free Foaming Spray
$1.67 per ounce
Eco All Natural Lotion
$4.72 per ounce
No-Ad Lotion
$.59 per ounce
Walgreens Continuous Spray
$1.30 per ounce
I like the reports conducted by Consumer Reports primarily because they are an advocacy-based source. Their studies are generally very well researched and fair. The two products rated "best buys" are No-Ad and Walgreens.

While you're driving around in your car this summer, remember to rub in some sun lotion on that arm that hangs out the window. Even if your window is up and the AC is on, lather up. UVB light may not be able to get through, but UVA rays can penetrate the glass (unless your windows have been treated).

What about the office? Is your desk near a sunny window? If you are unprotected, you could get a burn.

Do you suffer from summer allergies? Do you have a headache? Check with your doctor to be sure that you medication isn't going to react with the sun's ultraviolet rays. Called, photosensitivity, this reaction is common and can effect those taking antibiotics, oral contraceptions and even ibuprofen.

Even if you are not prone to burning, this medical reaction could cause you to burn.

Just because your skin softening lotion and makeup are SPF doesn't mean that is all you need on your skin. Most likely, you would need to apply more makeup that you normally would in order to benefit from the SPF protection. Also, makeup would need to be reapplied just like other sun lotions.

It's best to apply SPF protection in layers. SPF moisturizer, followed by sunscreen, followed by SPF makeup, and then sunscreen again. This may seem a bit overkill, but nearly all products sold in today's market carry SPF protection. You are, most likely, already following this routine already.

If you're not, however, only wearing a scant amount of makeup won't protect you and you will, most likely, burn.

So you've decided to enjoy a casual spin around the lake in your canoe or lounge on your raft in the pool. Be Careful. Water reflects many of the sun's ultraviolet rays back up at you. So while you may stay cool and not feel nearly as hot as you would on the beach, you are still in danger of burning.

Tuck your sunscreen in your raft so that it's handy. You can reapply on the water if you decide to float the afternoon away. If not you risk getting a worse burn than if' you'd stayed with your buddies on the sand. That means what? You guessed it... you could burn.

Getting outside means fun for the entire family and many times, that can includes the family pet. I have many friends that take their dogs every where that they go, including the beach and the slopes. Be sure to protect your four-legged pal, too.

There are only a few pet-appropriate sunscreens on the market. At this time, I can't recommend any one particular brand. Sometimes, it's just easier to keep dogs in as much shade as possible during the intense portion of the day. Pink bellies and little noses can be prone to sunburn and very often it can be difficult to notice if your dog's black snout has gotten a bit too much sun.

If you take your buddy out in the winter months, take care their eyes are protected from the glare off the snow. Unlike you, your pet will have fewer problems during the winter months, but remember, just because the sun isn't at it's highest and there is snow on the ground there is still a possibility that you can get a burn. Wear protection at all times.

Doggles Ils Chrome Large Dog Goggles
Doggles Ils Chrome Large Dog Goggles

If you like taking your dog on the water with you, perhaps consider some eye protection. Keeping the sun's strong rays from your pups eyes is important. Before buying glasses for you dog, however, be sure that he/she will be receptive to wearing them.


Sunscreen Song

Now Go Have Fun, But Be Careful.

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