MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays travel down to the surface of Earth and can cause major damage to our skin. There are two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB. The UVA rays are longer and can cause sun damage that results in aging/wrinkles, while UVB will cause sunburn and skin cancer. The sun can cause temporary damage like a sunburn or long term damage in the way of skin cancer. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays.
1. “It’s cloudy, so I don’t have to wear sunscreen!” Although you may not feel the sun burning you on a cloudy day, you still need to wear sunscreen. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, 80 percent of the sun’s rays still make it to the ground on a cloudy day. The sun’s UV rays don’t only burn your skin; they can also cause damage that could result in skin cancer.
2. "If I put on a higher SPF sunscreen, I don't have to reapply." SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and the corresponding SPF number explains how long a sunscreen can protect your skin from UV rays before burning. This means that SPF 30 will protect your skin for 30 minutes longer compared to when you didn't have on sunscreen. SPF 50 means 50 minutes longer. Although the SPF 50 will keep you protected longer, you will still need to reapply because it will lose it's effect.
3. "I have dark skin, so I never burn. I don't need sunscreen." The reason why people with a dark complexion burn less frequently is because they have more melanin in their skin. This results in less UV rays penetrating the skin. Although it may take longer, people with dark skin will still get burned if exposed to the sun. It may not show up as a red sunburn, the skin will still be hot and painful.
4. "Sunscreen never expires." The FDA requires sunscreen manufacturers to make sunscreen that can maintain its strength for 3 years. Also, sunscreens typically have an expiration date listed on the bottle. Expired sunscreen is less potent, so could get sun damage if you use it. Also, some people have presorted breaking out in a rash after using expired sunscreen.
5. “If I wear sunscreen, I won’t get a tan.” Sunscreen does a great job of protecting you, but it does not completely block out UV rays. Therefore, you can still get a tan while wearing it. However, a tan is your body’s response to UV rays and actually indicates that some damage has been done to your skin.