Everyone loves a golden glow, but baking in the sun without sunscreen is a mistake that can leave behind sun damage, wrinkles and cancer. 

Below are myths and facts to learn more about how to keep your skin safe in the summer.

Myth or fact? A base tan protects your skin from getting sunburned.

Myth. A base tan gives you about an SPF of 4 or less, which is little to no protection. Anytime you burn or tan, you’re causing damage to your skin.

Myth or fact? It’s better to buy an SPF of 30 or higher to ensure maximum protection.

Fact. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 anytime you’re outside and reapply every two hours. An SPF of 30 or higher filters UVR (ultraviolet radiation) and protects you from reflected UVR surfaces like water, sand and concrete.

Myth or fact? If you don’t burn, you’re not aging your skin. 

Myth. You are aging your skin anytime you expose it the sun’s UV rays. These harmful rays act by degrading the DNA in your skin that can cause cancer. At the same time, they are diminishing the thickness and elasticity which causes wrinkles, sagginess and crepe-like texture skin. This is an accumulative effect and depends on the amount of sun exposure you receive.  When you are young, you might have healthy blemish-free skin, but if you continuously expose your skin to damaging UV rays you can look 5-10 years older.

Myth or fact? Dark skin doesn’t burn. 

Myth. People with more pigment in their skin will have lower skin cancer risk but they are not immune to burning their skin. Unfortunately, skin cancer can be diagnosed later in those with darker skin tones, and often at a later stage which makes it more difficult to treat. Even with a dark complexion, you could have genes that make you more susceptible to skin cancer 

Myth or fact? A little bit of sun exposure is good for you.

Fact. A few minutes of unprotected exposure can mean big health benefits for your health. The exact amount of time varies from person-to-person, but you should start with 10-15 minutes a day. In fact, an estimated 70 to 90 percent of the U.S. population is deficient in Vitamin D which is linked to heart disease, mood disorder and osteoporosis. Remember, too much sun at once can be damaging to your skin so it is important to take precautions to avoid skin burning and irritation.

Myth or fact? You’re only sunburnt if your skin is red.

Myth. You won’t always see that your skin is burned until it’s too late. Your skin can keep burning for hours after sun exposure and can take up to six hours to show signs of redness.

Myth or fact? You’ll get more Vitamin D in the summertime.

Fact. During the summer, the weather is warm and sunny making it is easy to absorb and replenish Vitamin D. This helps to boost your immune system, keep your bones strong and improve your mood.

Myth or fact? Sunbeds are a more safe way to tan.

Myth. Sunbeds cause skin cancer. A tan is a sign that your body is trying to repair the damage caused by the sun’s UV rays. There is no “safe” way to tan. 

Another way to replenish your Vitamin D instead of the sun is to eat it! Keep your skin healthy by eating foods rich in sun protecting anti-oxidants such as sweet potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, salmon, avocado and eggs. These can help prevent skin damage from the sun. 

Remember, everyone is different. People vary in how much sun they can tolerate, their anti-oxidant defense and ability to repair sun damaged skin and their genetic susceptibility to skin cancers


Pablo Prichard, M.D. is the Chief of Plastic Surgery at Honor Health John C. Lincoln Hospital and Medical Director for Plastic surgery and is the senior partner at Advanced Aesthetics Associates. Dr. Prichard serves more than 2,000 patients every year and has specialized in both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. For more information, visit https://www.drprichard.com.