1. Getting a “base tan” before spending a weekend at the beach protects you from burning

Many have this common misconception that getting a base tan will protect them from potential burns or cancers. This is completely false. Your skin will tan because its already been damage by the sun rays. It’s your bodies way of trying to protect itself before a burn. The darker color of your skin turns to is because the melanin trying to block the UVB rays from harming you. Basically a base tan means your that much closer to a burn.

2. Tanning beds are safer than old fashion sun exposure

This myth was started based on the theory that tanning beds only use UVA rays instead of both UVA and UVB rays beamed from the natural sunlight. Although it sounds like a legitimate claim its unfortunately not true. Some studies have actually showed UVB rays are more dangerous. Did you know that using tanning beds before the age of 35 can increase your risk of melanoma by 75% (according to the Skin Cancer Foundation Journal).

3. You can’t burn on a cloudy day, so you don’t need sun protection

It’s unbelievable that people are still falling for this one. Of course you can burn when skies are grey! However it is true that the amount of UV Rays reaching us is reduced by the amount of clouds above. The reason why this is an continuous conversation is because people make the mistake of not wearing any protection which would obviously put us at risk. Just like any other day sunny or gloomy always wear sun protection. Trust me the possibility of getting skin cancer is not worth the risk.

4. People who have naturally darker skin don’t have to worry about skin cancer

Lighter skin types are more at risk of developing skin cancer than darker skin types. So it makes sense, that those with more pigmentation have a natural protection from the sun. According to skincancer.org the melanin in the skin of African Americans provides a sun protection factor equivalent to 13.4, in comparison to Caucasian person who only gets on average 3.4. The most startling fact is that African American and Hispanic skin types who develop melanoma are more likely to die from this disease most likely because suspicious lesions are much more difficult to recognize.

5. Sunscreen provides complete protection from the sun

Not only does sunscreen not provide full protection from the sun but most of the time people are not using it correctly so it isn’t even being used to its fullest capabilities. Always apply your sunscreen 15-20 minutes before sun exposure and do not forget to reapply throughout the day, especially if your exposed to the sunlight for long periods of time. In addition to wearing sunscreen you should cover up with sun protectant clothing and stay in the shade as much as possible.

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Dr. Timothy Jochen Medical Director, Contour Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Center
Dr. Jochen specializes in Mohs Surgery for skin cancer removal, facial rejuvenation including cosmetic laser technology, Botox® and facial fillers, soft tissue augmentation, leg and facial vein treatment, tumescent liposuction and hair restoration/transplants.

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