10 Ways the Sun Sneakily Damages Your Skin

While getting a healthy- and sexy-looking tan may be a big temptation to many, it's actually a poor health choice, according to experts. That's because sun overexposure contributes to the majority of skin cancers in the United States. And the American Cancer Society (ACS) says skin cancers account for nearly 50 percent of all cancers in America. The ACS estimates that in 2006, the last year for which data were available, 59,940 cases of malignant melanoma and over 1 million cases of basal- and squamous-cell cancers were connected with exposure to ultraviolet rays.


While we may try to protect against sun exposure, there are 10 ways our best efforts are often defeated.
   
-- Driving without sunscreen. Car glass lets in UVA rays, which age the skin, though it blocks UVB rays, which cause sunburn and DNA damage leading to skin cancer.
   
-- Thinking shade will protect us. If we don’t apply sunscreen, we can still get burned, even if we’re sitting in shade on a boat, by the pool or on the beach, because both sand and water reflect UV rays.

-- Trusting old sunscreen. Most sunscreens lose their potency in one to three years. In addition, storing sunscreen in a hot car can cause the ingredients to separate or oxidize.
   
-- Forgetting about hair. When applying sunscreen, women can forget to rub it on their neck and ears when they wear their hair back or up. Men can forget to apply sunscreen on their scalp where hair is thinning. So wear a hat!
   
-- Relying on clothing to block the sun. A white T-shirt has a minuscule 7 to 8 sun protective factor (SPF). This calls for putting on sunscreen under your clothes, or wearing clothing with Ultraviolet Protective Factor that shields you from up to 97.5 percent of UV rays.
   
-- Thinking your sunscreen is waterproof. Both waterproof and water-resistant sunscreens should be reapplied after swimming.
   
-- Ignorance of medications’ effects. Antibiotics, including tetracycline, and some antihistamines make the skin more prone to sunburn.

-- Relying on a base tan. Using a tanning bed to get a base tan prior to going on vacation only damages skin-cell DNA, hurts the eyes and accelerates aging, according to a study appearing in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

-- Thinking clouds block UV. UV rays penetrate clouds, though some are filtered out.

-- Using too little sunscreen, too seldom. Most sunbathers use only 25 percent to 50 percent of the amount of sunscreen they’re supposed to, said a study in the Archives of Dermatology. Also, you need to reapply sunscreen after two to three hours.


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