Everyone knows the sun can be harmful to your skin, especially at the beach. But exactly how bad is the sun for you? And do things like swimming in T-shirts and tanning before spring break actually help prevent sunburn? Can sunglasses really harm you? Hopefully by the end of this short 10 question mid-term, you’ll be ready to take to the beach without the burn (Cheating on this exam is highly encouraged).
Sunscreen can be waterproof: False. As you can probably relate, sunscreen has shown itself water resistant but not 100% waterproof. Remember to reapply sunscreen once the salt water dries after that brief cool down in the ocean. If not, it’s recommended to reapply every two hours.
Everyone, no matter their skin color, is equally susceptible to sunburn: False. If you’re a good test taker, you’d recall that melanin darkens your skin’s color and deductive reasoning would say African-Americans have more melanin in their skin to reflect the sun’s rays. The sun protection factor, or SPF, of an African-American is about 13.4 SPF compared to a Caucasian’s natural 3.4 SPF skin protection. Although 13 SPF sounds like decent protection, 15 SPF is recommended for cloudy days and at least 30 SPF protection.
The sun is stronger in some geographic locations than in others: True. Both elevation, location, and surroundings each determine the sun’s toasting abilities. Let’s look at one of the most dangerous sun spots, Mt. Kilimanjaro, to help see why. Tall places like Mt Kilimanjaro (almost 20,000 feet above sea level) raise people closer to the sun. Since snow, sand, and water reflect 85% of the sun’s rays, sunscreen is important for the mountain’s snowy peaks and sandy base. Plus, like Florida and Mexico, Mt. Kilimanjaro’s home country Tanzania is near the equator, which means longer days and longer exposure to the sun.
Wearing a hat will eliminate any risk of facial sunburn: False. Yes, a hat’s bill will shade the eyes and block the sun’s rays, but it can’t stop the sun’s rays reflected off sand, snow, and water. While lathering up your shoulders, take the extra two minutes and apply to your hat-shaded face too.
Hats like the Panama hat or outback hats that cover the ears are most recommended. And guys, don’t forget if you have extremely short hair, hats are the best way to avoid scalp sunburn. Ask your girlfriend or take after Kenny Chesney, Johnny Depp, or Theodore Roosevelt for beach hat suggestions.
You do not need sunscreen on cloudy days.
Based on past experience, you might be able to answer this one too. Since 80% of the sun’s rays penetrate through the clouds, you’re still going to need that Coppertone.
Sunglasses without UVA and UVB protection are actually worse for your eyes than not wearing sunglasses at all: True. When you wear sunglasses that darken your view, your pupils dilate and get bigger. If your sunglasses don’t have UVA and UVB protection, they’re still letting in all the sun’s rays at this bigger pupil. A bigger pupil plus the same amount of sun rays makes for a worse situation conducive to glaucoma and cataracts, don’t you think?
Wearing a T-shirt in the ocean is as good as wearing sunscreen when it comes to sun-blockage: False. Burnt in my white T? Absolutely. When a white T-shirt gets wet, its SPF dwindles to less than five. Even tanning oils have a higher SPF than five.
Spray sunscreens are okay for the ozone layer: True. Most of today’s spray-on sunscreens do not contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons for you non-Chem majors) that eat away the ozone layer. Spray on, and spray often.
Your beach hotel’s windows block both UVA and UVB rays: False. Typically, home windows only block the UVB rays that cause sunburn. They do not block UVA rays, which age your skin with wrinkles and age spots.
Getting a “base tan” before you go on spring break will help prevent sunburn: True. Surprisingly, tanning your skin before spring break departure does help prevent sunburn… but not without consequences. The ultraviolet light causes your skin to produce melanin, which surrounds your skin cells’ core to protect the DNA. When sunlight hits melanin protected cells, sun radiation is absorbed or scattered which decreases the amount of skin-burning sunrays.
However, the release of melanin that makes your skin tan can also inflict melanoma. In fact, consumerreports.org reports that using a tanning bed under the age of 35 increases your risk of melanoma up to 74%.
So a “base tan” will indeed help prevent sunburn by adding melanin which will reflect the sun, but pre-tanning also increases your risk of skin cancer along with other side effects. Using sunblock is still your best defense against sunburn AND cancer.
Vampires can use 115 SPF sunblock to live during the day: False. Have you ever seen a vampire walking around at day? I didn’t think so.
Nate Schrader is a writer for SunglassWarehouse.com, he writes about the trending sunglasses styles along with sun safety tips. Visti The Sun Authority at SunglassWarehouse.com for more sunglasses care and skin health tips.
Sources: health.howstuffworks.com, news.consumerreports.org, aad.org, and Wikipedia.com