Demystifying the Myths of Summer Sun Exposure

Summer translates into longer days and warmer weather, both of which usually lead to more fun in the sun. While you probably already know that spending time in the sun increases your skin’s risk of premature aging and cancer, when you’re armed with the right information, there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself. We’ve demystified the top summer sun protection myths, so read on to learn how you can keep yourself safer both on and off the beach.

Happy kids in a pool

Summer Myth #1: You’re Safe in the Shade

Staying out of direct sunlight seems like a reasonable way to avoid sun exposure (and is highly recommended between the hours of 10am to 2pm), but the amount of outdoor protection actually varies with the type of shade. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UVB rays can bounce off reflective surfaces (think dry sand or concrete) and reach your skin indirectly, potentially making shady trees and beach umbrellas less effective. Even wearing a hat to shield your scalp and head from the sun provides limited protection for your face. Sunscreen helps reduce your exposure to those sneaky, damaging rays, so be sure to smooth on some quality, mineral-based broad-spectrum product while you’re lounging in the shade. Pairing a broad-brimmed hat (the equivalent of SPF 5 for nose and cheeks) with sunscreen is an even safer way to protect your body from head to toe.

Summer Myth #2: You Don’t Need to Wear Sunscreen on Cloudy Days

While overcast skies give the impression that they’re keeping the sun at bay, up to 80% of UV rays can slip right through the haze, according to the American Melanoma Foundation. Just as important as protecting yourself from the sun are the products you choose. Many sunscreens use potentially harmful sunblockers like oxybenzone, which may be absorbed through skin, potentially triggering allergic reactions and disrupting hormones. Instead, we use non-nano zinc oxide, an effective mineral sunblocker that works by reflecting and scattering UV rays to prevent them from penetrating or damaging the skin. It’s important to apply sunscreen properly: spread the sunblock evenly over skin, rub it in well, and reapply often.

Summer Myth #3: Waterproof Sunscreen Stays on While You Swim

Water-resistant sunscreen is a must when you spend time in the water, but be warned, it does eventually wash off. You can expect 40 to 80 minutes of protection while you’re swimming or sweating in the sun before reapplication is required. In fact, manufacturers haven’t referred to sunscreen as “waterproof” since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibited the term in 2012. Want to be extra vigilant? Consider setting a reminder on your phone or asking a friend to remind you when it’s time to reapply.

Summer Myth #4: Clothing Blocks Out Sun Exposure

Covering up with long sleeves and pants does provide some sun protection, but the level of protection varies by the condition, color, and weave of the fabric. The American Cancer Society lists dry, dark, and tightly woven fabrics as the most protective, but also advises they won’t block all UV rays. Make it a part of your daily routine to apply sunscreen all over so your whole body is protected regardless of what you wear, especially if you have a day of light clothing and sun exposure ahead. If you want to make it even easier for yourself, opt for some stylish sun protection gear that blocks 98% of UV rays from our friends at Cabana Life.

Summer Myth #5: You Can Wait to Apply Your Sunscreen at the Beach

It may seem natural to wait until you’re outside beneath the rays to apply your broad-spectrum sunscreen, but a significant portion of sun damage actually comes from sun exposure while driving. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, drivers show more photodamage (aka dark spots) and deeper wrinkles on the left side of their face (and on the right side in countries where the driver’s side is on the right). Slathering it on before you get in the car will help reduce your exposure to UV rays and also ensure your skin gets the 15 minutes of product absorption it needs for optimal sun protection.

Get Set for a Safer Summer:

Our classic Protect Stick Sunscreen with SPF 30 is the perfect travel-friendly size to toss in your bag—it’s available for your face in smaller size, too. Made with non-nano zinc oxide, our water-resistant sunscreen protects against UVA/UVB rays, while nourishing the skin with organic coconut and acai fruit oils. Plus, it blends seamlessly without leaving white streaks behind.

Want more skin-protection options? Shop our full range of safer mineral sunblockers.