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  • James Murray, DNP

5 Myths about Sunscreen


Many of my patients feel that they can’t get sun damage when the weather is bad, but the reality is that UVB and UVA exposure will continue to damage skin even on a cloudy day!

1. I don't need sunscreen when it's cloudy.

False. This is probably the number one objection I hear to wearing sunscreen here on the Oregon coast. Many of my patients feel that they can’t get sun damage when the weather is bad, but the reality is that UVB and UVA exposure will continue to damage skin even on a cloudy day!


2. I only need sunscreen for long periods of sun exposure.

False. Sun damage occurs over time, or cumulatively. Driving. Gardening. Five minutes here. Thirty minutes there… It all adds up! I often have conversations with patients regarding the skin cancer they have now being related to sun exposure they likely had 30 or 40 years ago. Sure, prolonged exposure, like a day at the beach, also contributes, but daily sunscreen use is the best way to avoid skin cancer and premature skin aging.


3. Sunscreen feels gross and it’s bad for your skin.

Well… so is skin cancer. However, not all sunscreen is created equal. Being a redhead and working in dermatology, I’ve certainly tried my share of sunscreens over the years. Many are greasy, gross, and smell like fake coconut… but they don’t have to be. I always recommend finding a sunscreen you are willing to put on daily. My personal favorites are Blue Lizard and Elta MD. However, the best sunscreens will likely be fragrance free, have a physical block such as zinc oxide, as well as be broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher. Many sun blocks have moisturizers built in that make them more pleasant to apply. Stop by our office for a free sample!


4. My skin never burns, so I don’t need sunscreen.

I’m happy for you. You probably have a complexion that would make me jealous. However, the darker your natural skin tone/complexion, the more likely you are to get the worst kind of skin

cancer—melanoma. This is especially true with a family history of melanoma, increased sun exposure and tanning bed use. In fact, tanning bed use increases your chance of getting melanoma 10x! Reduce your risk, and cover up!


5. I don’t have time for sunscreen.

Like I tell many of my patients, “Wearing sunscreen will mean making fewer trips to my office.” What people don’t realize is that regular use of sun block is the single most important step you can take towards reducing premature skin aging, texture changes, dark spots, and wrinkles, not to mention reducing your risk of skin cancer. Compared to a lot of anti-aging treatments, lotions, and serums on the market today (of which some may work), sunscreen is usually cheaper and more effective. As the old adage says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”