The forecast said it would be about 95 degrees and cloudy today. You spent the morning doing yard work, the afternoon relaxing at the pool and the evening at a neighborhood barbecue. Whether you came home slightly tanned or not, you were exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. “But wait,” you might say, “it was cloudy, so I’m fine.” Wrong—clouds don’t block UV light. This month is UV Safety Awareness Month and we’re busting myths and giving you the tips you need to stay safe in the sun.

“It’s cloudy, so there’s no risk.”

This is a common myth that many of us have likely become victim to. UV rays can go through clouds. Therefore, even if it’s a little overcast and cooler, it’s important to be sun-safe. UV rays damage the DNA of skin cells. A lot of exposure to UV rays leads to a greater risk of skin cancer.

“I put on sunscreen this morning; I’m fine.”

For all-day protection, you need to reapply every two hours. Also, particularly on warm summer days, seek the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. because that’s when UV rays are the strongest. For even better protection than sunscreen, cover up and wear a hat, preferably with a broad brim.

“Sunburns are only bad if they’re red and peeling.”

We all feel bad for the fair-skinned kids that come home bright red, then end up peeling in the next few days. However, these fair-skinned people aren’t the only ones at risk for sunburns. Yes, even if you have darker skin that easily tans, you can still get a sunburn or damage from UV rays. Also, if you think you’re safe because you used a tanning bed before heading out in the sun, think again. A tan will not be enough to protect you from sun damage. Everyone should be wary of damage from UV rays, regardless of skin tone.

“More expensive sunscreens offer better protection.”

If you’re at the store looking at the sunscreen offerings, you may just grab the most expensive one assuming it’s the best. Good news for your wallet: the most expensive sunscreens aren’t always the best. It’s more important to look at the SPF value than the price. Choose sunscreens with an SPF over 15. Also, even if you choose a high SPF sunscreen, it’s still important to reapply throughout the day.   

 

During the month of July and the rest of the year, apply these tips to be safe from UV rays. Also remember that your eyes are also at risk. This means you need to slip on those sunglasses anytime you head outside. As always, if you notice any concerns or abnormalities with your skin or eyes, talk to a doctor—better to be safe than sorry this summer.

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