Debunking the myths about sun safety

Summer is here at last! While fun in the sun is at the top of all our agendas we shouldn’t forget about sun safety too

Dr Stefanie Williams, a dermatologist, has a passion for healthy skin. She takes a look at the common sun safety myths so that you don’t become a victim this season:

Read more about skin cancer

SPF 15 in my morning moisturizer protects my skin from the sun
If you really want to reap the benefits of sun protection, you need much, much more than just SPF (sun protection factor) 12 or 15. The first reason is that in ‘real life’ the way we apply moisturizer means we rarely reach the level of protection stated on the pack. We simply don’t use anywhere near as much as the thick layers they slap on when they test sunscreens in the lab. Scientific studies have shown unequivocally that the amount of cream a ‘normal’ person applies only gives a fraction of the SPF printed on the pack.

The SPF tells me how much protection I’m getting from my sunscreen
Most people don’t know that the SPF itself only tells us about protection against burning UVB rays, and says nothing about UVA protection at all.

Find out about other tips for an healthy summer

I don’t need sun protection during the winter or on a cloudy day
I am often asked “With our more usual dull and miserable British weather, do you seriously expect me to wear it through the winter too?” Yes, you do! I always recommend to my patients to use the same sun protection level of broad-spectrum SPF 50 in summer and winter. But if you really feel you need to reduce your SPF in winter, don’t go below broad-spectrum SPF 20 to 30.

A healthy tan is the best sun protection
Yes, if you have African or Caribbean skin, then your natural skin colour is in fact an excellent protection from the sun’s rays. But not all ‘tans’ are created equal. Scientific studies have shown that not only sunburn is a sign of skin damage, in fair skin a tan itself means damage too.

Fake tans won’t harm my skin
Self tanners have traditionally been seen as an easy way of getting a sun-kissed look without risking UV-damage. And although I agree that they’re much less harmful for your skin than baking on a beach or – heaven forbid – a sunbed, I do have some reservations.

Find out about a summer skin

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