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5 Common Sunscreen and Sun Protection Mistakes


WRITTEN BY: CancerCenter
Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

It’s well known and frequently talked about that protecting yourself from the sun is crucial in preventing skin cancer and melanoma. Wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and seeking shade are all things we know to do. However, we all make mistakes, including when we’re out and about in the summer months.

To help keep your skin protected, we’ve listed five commonly made mistakes in the sun, especially when it comes to sunscreen.

1. Visiting a Tanning Salon to Prevent Burning

If you build a base tan, your skin will be used to the UV rays and you won’t burn, right? This is a common misconception. Indoor tanning is a known cause of skin cancers. By tanning before you plan to spend a lot of time outside, you’re exposing yourself just as much, if not more, than what you would have originally. Plus, when tanning, you don’t use SPF.

Myth: Visiting a tanning salon before heading outdoors will prevent your skin from #burning. Click To Tweet

2. Applying Sunscreen When You’re Already Exposed

It’s usual you get to the beach or pool, set up your things, and then apply your sunscreen. Unfortunately, it’s not the right order you should go about the day. Sunscreen should be applied generously about 30 minutes before you step out into the sun. After a half hour, the UV blockers will have bonded to your skin, offering the best protection.

3. Not Reapplying Sun Screen Frequently

Sure, the sunscreen you’re using says its water and sweat proof, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to reapply! After your initial sunscreen application, you should reapply every two hours, and especially right after you’ve been exercising or swimming.

4. Not Using Sunscreen With Enough SPF

You should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30. A tan may seem nice, and the oils with less than 30 SPF will get you there, but avoiding melanoma and other skin cancersis more important to your health.

5. Missing Important Areas On the Body

So now that you’ve applied a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 a half an hour before going outside, and you’ve continued to reapply every two hours, you should be safe, right? Not necessarily! Are you sure you applied to ALL of your exposed skin? Commonly missed areas include:

  • Your ears
  • The side of your face
  • The tops of your feet
  • The front and back of your neck
  • Your scalp (especially on bald spots, hair parts, or if you have a buzz cut)
Don't forget to put #sunscreen on the tops of your feet and your scalp! Click To Tweet

Don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm that contains SPF. Are you guilty of any of these? Now you can be well-equipped to go outside and face the sun with confidence. What are your tips for remembering to correct your sun safety mistakes? Share with us in the comments below!

UPMC CancerCenter

CancerCenter

At UPMC CancerCenter, we are your doctors, caregivers, teachers, and support system. You are not alone in your fight against cancer, and we are committed to providing you the knowledge, inspiration, and specialty cancer care you need so you can face your diagnosis with confidence. We’re here for you – as part of the community – and that’s something cancer can never take away. Read More