Who’s headed to the beach next week? Excited for the sun? Of course you are, who wouldn’t want to get out of this snow-prone Connecticut weather? And since we don’t want to come home with a lobster-like complexion, we’ve compiled tanning tips and myths; what to believe and what not to believe when it comes to soaking up the sun for a week.
1. To base tan, or not to base tan.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you shouldn’t get that bronze base at the tanning bed. Any form of tan (or burn) is a form of skin cancer. Although many may believe the theory that going tanning before a beach vacation prepares your skin for the sun, in reality, there’s no proven purpose to hitting the tanning bed prior to the beach. It’s just speeding up the skin damage process and increasing your risk for skin cancer.
2. Let’s talk sunscreen.
The level of a sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) only indicates protection from UVB rays, when you also need protection from UVA rays, which are the skin cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. Using a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen will ensure protection from both kinds. To totally protect your skin, make sure the label of your lotion contains at least one of the following ingredients: Oxybenzon, Octyl Salicylate, Avobenzone, Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide.
3. What does SPF really mean?
A SPF number is based on how long it takes to burn skin that’s been treated with sunscreen compared with skin that hasn’t been treated. Think of it like this: “if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer — about five hours,” as stated by the Skin Cancer Foundation. However, regardless of SPF, make sure to spread an even layer on your body. If your sunscreen is unevenly applied, SPF 15 isn’t any different than SPF 60.
4. How often and how much should I apply?
The sun is at its strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunscreen is necessary when the sun is directly shining, and should be reapplied every two hours. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that only 25 to 50 percent of beach-goers apply the right amount of sunscreen. Don’t be a statistic. The AAD recommends using one ounce of sunscreen, or enough to fill a shot glass. And remember to apply 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure.
5. There’s no way I can get a tan when it’s cloudy, right?
This isn’t true, and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can shine through clouds and fog, so sunscreen is still required!