Got sunscreen? Great – but keep your shirt on.

By now most of us know to wear sunscreen at the beach or during other outdoor activities. But some people mistakenly think wearing sunscreen makes them immune from sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer.

The National Cancer Institute says sunscreen use is increasing, albeit slowly. But other researchers are finding an unforeseen consequence: When people wear sunscreen, they’re more likely to stay in the sun longer and less likely to wear protective clothing. As a result, they’re getting more sunburns.

A review of European studies showed that sunscreen usage boosted time in the sun and increased the likelihood of sunburn. The higher the SPF protection factor, the longer people stayed in the sun.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked more than 2,000 people how many sunburns they got in the last year and compared that with their responses to how often they wore a hat or long-sleeved shirt and how often they used sunscreen. Those who relied on sunscreen were more likely to have reported multiple sunburns over the past year. Those who wore a hat, long sleeves or simply stayed in the shade had fewer sunburns.

Most sunscreens now carry an assuring label that advises that the product decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging “if used as directed with other sun protection measures.” The caveat is critically important. If you wear sunscreen but change your behavior and spend more time in the sun, you may be no better off.

One way to avoid changing your behavior when wearing sunscreen is to apply sunscreen everyday by using a daily moisturizer with SPF. Daily usage also provides long term benefits. A promising study on reduction of skin cancer from Australian researchers found that people who used sunscreen daily for four years, still had a decreased risk of melanoma ten years later. 

Enjoy summer. But don’t let sunscreen fool you into spending extra time in the sun. Read our sun safety tips.

And when you need a sunscreen, be sure to choose a good one.

Best moisturizers with SPF

Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens

Also be sure to check out our new sunscreen label decoder.

Disqus Comments

Related News

Continue Reading