Florida summertime brings some of the harshest heat and sun strength in the country, and it’s important to protect your skin against the dangerous UV rays. Here we break down some of the most commonly asked questions from the Skin Cancer Foundation Journal 2018.
Q: Do I really need to wear sunscreen if I’m in the shade?
A: Yes. If it’s not nighttime, there’s UV light. Direct sunlight may be the only type of exposure that you can feel on your skin, but indirect and reflected exposure can be harmful too. A 2017 study showed that 78% of people in shade got sunburned over a 3.5 hour period. Try to use as many types of protection as you can – for example, use sunscreen AND sit out of direct sun.
Q: I’m concerned about some of the ingredients in sunscreens. I’m worried about the chemicals.
A: Some claims about ingredients have been floating around the internet but are not supported by hard science. For example, you may have read that a sunscreen containing Vitamin A can cause skin cancer – but there’s no scientific data that supports that. Out of an abundance of caution, I suggest patients use a zinc- or titanium- based sunscreen. You can learn more about Dr. Ng’s specially formulated zinc- based sunscreen here.
Q: How can I be sure I’m applying enough sunscreen?
A: It is critical to apply your sunscreen really thick, like brushing a thick coat of paint onto a rough surface of a wooden fence. Almost no one puts sunscreen on as thickly as recommendations say. Most people only use a quarter of the thickness needed to provide the SPF protection level promised on the label. More is always better. Also, sunscreen becomes less effective after about two hours, especially if you’re sweating or drying your skin with a towel after coming out of the ocean or pool. Patients should reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating.
Q: I really don’t think I need sunscreen. My complexion is naturally dark, and I never sunburn.
A: If you need extra motivation besides preventing sunburns, remember that the best thing you can do to keep your skin looking young and healthy is to wear SPF every day. It is the best way to prevent your skin from aging.