8 Bad Excuses to Not Wear Sunscreen

It’s a fact that not wearing sunscreen and being in the sun causes cancer. If you think you have a good excuse to skip the sunscreen today, think again.

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Debunking Skin Cancer Myths

Canadians seem to have a love-hate relationship with sunscreen. We love the protection it offers our skin, but generally aren’t fans of how it feels, smells and costs. But what’s more worrisome is that we’re turning these dislikes into actual excuses for avoiding sunscreen. With many people skipping sun protection, it’s not surprising that melanoma diagnoses are rising in Canada. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, melanoma rates in the past two decades have increased, despite the fact that it is one of the most easily preventable forms of cancer. In 2014, it was estimated that 6,500 Canadians would be diagnosed with the disease, and 1,050 would die from it.

Let’s bust some excuses with expert information on unfounded sunscreen myths may contribute to your risk of skin cancer.

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1. My body won’t be able to process vitamin D if I wear sunscreen.

There’s a commonly held belief that sunscreen use will lead to vitamin D deficiency because the lotion prevents your skin from absorbing the sun’s rays. Dr. Anatoli Freiman, dermatologist and medical director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre, says this idea is a myth. “Wearing sunscreen doesn’t completely block the sun’s rays, or prevent complete blockage of vitamin D synthesization and production,” he says.

If you’re still concerned that you’re not getting sufficient amounts of the “sunshine vitamin,” make sure you are eating foods rich in vitamin D. Health Canada recommends foods such as fatty fish (salmon), egg yolks and fortified milk to up your vitamin D intake. You can also ask your physician or pharmacist about taking vitamin D supplements.

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2. My cosmetics already have SPF.

Some makeup offer SPF (sun protection factor), but most people don’t wear enough foundation, eye shadow, or lipstick to offer completely protect skin, plus most cosmetics don’t contain enough SPF. “The majority of makeup products have SPF 15. That’s not enough for adequate protection,” says Dr. Freiman. “And when people put makeup on, they put it on the face so it doesn’t address the rest of the body.”

Dermatologists recommend you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 in addition to your cosmetics. Broad-spectrum means that the product will protect your skin from two types of ultra violet rays, UVA and UVB. UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburn. Too much exposure to both UVA and UVB rays can lead to the development of skin cancer. To ensure that you’re applying enough sunscreen to cover your face and body, Dr. Freiman suggests using a golfball or shot glass-sized amount, and plan to reapply it every two hours.

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3. Sunscreen is too sticky.

A visit to the drugstore will uncover many products that aren’t gooey or sticky. Ingredients including zinc formulations have a lighter, less tacky feel. “There are a lot of sprays, lotions and emulsions that people can use. Some zinc products have micro-ionized particles so they can be less sticky,” says Dr. Freiman.

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4. The chemicals in sunscreen are bad for me.

This excuse is based on a popular misconception, says Dr. Freiman. No scientific studies exist that prove a link between sunscreen ingredients and health concerns, however, there are studies that show that unprotected skin can develop cancer. “We do know that not wearing sunscreen and being in the sun causes cancer. That’s a proven fact,” he says. Sunscreen is just one aspect of several safe sun strategies – ‘Stay out of the sun during peak hours [between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.], wear sun protective clothing including hats, and sunglasses with proper coverage,’ says Dr. Freiman.

Look for sun protective clothing that features an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label. “Sun-protective clothing typically has UPF 30 or higher; UPF 30 means that only 1 in 30 (three percent) of UV rays will pass through [the clothing to the skin],” says Dr. Freiman. Compare that figure to a regular cotton t-shirt. The Skin Cancer Foundation says a typical cotton t-shirt will only have a UPF of about five. If that shirt gets wet, that number drops to three. As for sunglasses, look for a label claiming it blocks 99 to 100 percent of all UV radiation.

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5. It’s too expensive.

Price shouldn’t keep you from using sunscreen. “Less expensive brands can offer good protection,”says Dr. Freiman. “In Canada most dermatologists recommend sunscreen that has the CDA (Canadian Dermatology Association) logo of approval. It shows that the sunscreen has been reviewed. Many of them aren’t expensive and are reasonably priced.” Don’t worry about sunscreen making a dent in your wallet. You don’t have to buy the most expensive brand to protect your skin.

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6. I don’t like the way sunscreen smells.

Say goodbye to coconut scents. “A lot of formulations smell nice and elegant while others don’t have a smell so it shouldn’t be a big issue,” says Dr. Freiman. Fragrance-free sunscreen products are wearable anywhere including the office.

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7. It gets into my eyes when I work out.

You can exercise outdoors while being protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Dr. Freiman suggests that sports enthusiasts ensure that their sunscreen product is applied properly. “I do a fair amount of sports and haven’t had problems as long as the sunscreen is rubbed in away from the eyes,” he says. “Don’t put it close to the eye itself.” You can also opt for a sunblock. These formulations stay put during active sports, so you won’t get SPF dripping into your eyes. For eye area protection, wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV rays.

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8. Sunscreen gives me acne.

If your skin is prone to pimples, choose a product that doesn’t clog pores. “A lot of the sunscreens with the CDA logo of approval are non-comedogenic, so they don’t cause break outs,” says Dr. Freiman. With lotions, creams, sticks and products containing zinc and titanium dioxide on the market, you have a wide range of sunscreens to choose from.

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