All The Scary Facts About Laying Out In The Sun

by Stephanie Montes

There’s something about a summery glow that instantly gives us a confidence boost, but we all know that catching rays can lead to premature aging, sun spots and even skin cancer. In fact, lying in the sun is even riskier than you thought, says Dr. Julie Karen, dermatologist and consultant for Edgewell Personal Care. Here, the facts, and her tips for skin that’s just as healthy as it looks.


Is It Worth The Damage?

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Wear Sunscreen, Even On Cloudy Days

"One of the most common skincare myths is that you don't need sunscreen on cloudy days. Rain or shine, UVA rays (the ones that cause premature aging) can penetrate windows or clouds and can even bounce off sand and water. Even if you're in the shade or under an umbrella, you can get incidental damage."

Don't Wait Till You're Outside To Apply

"Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside for maximal effectiveness. Always use a golf-ball-size amount with an SPF of at least 30. And if you're going to be at the beach all day, you'll need to reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming, sweating or toweling off."

What You Think Is Aging Skin Is Actually Sun-Damaged Skin

"Not only does unprotected sun exposure contribute to your risk for skin cancer, it also causes premature aging—wrinkles! Ninety percent of skin changes commonly attributed to aging are actually the result of sun damage."

Sunscreen Doesn't Give You A Free Pass

"Sunscreen helps protect you from sun exposure that's inevitable if you lead an active lifestyle—it's not meant to allow you to lie in the sun. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that people of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds limit outdoor activities between 10am and 4pm. If you're outdoors during these hours, it's important to seek shade as much as possible and wear sunscreen. I always tell my patients to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and wear protective clothing, a wide-brim hat and UV-blocking sunglasses."

Tanning Beds Cause More Skin Cancer Than Cigarettes Cause Lung Cancer

"A recent study in JAMA Dermatology found that there are more cases of skin cancer due to indoor tanning than lung cancer due to smoking. No matter what you may hear at tanning salons, the cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging (wrinkles, sagging, brown spots) as well as skin cancer. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation reports that people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent."

Go For The Fake Tan, Every Time

"I know the desire for tan skin will always be present with most people. Those who want to avoid the risks but still want some color should look to sunless tanners. Just remember, if you're going outside, you still need to apply sunscreen to protect your skin."

Get our tips for getting a healthy, faux glow here.