Myth: 80 percent of sun damage happens before age 18
Yes, those childhood sunburns are problematic—and even one blistering sunburn in your youth can double your chance of developing melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology—but you’ll be in a lot worse shape if you continue to have bad sun habits as an adult. According to a study published by the American Society for Photobiology, less than 25 percent of sun damage occurs before the age of 18, and 10 percent more accrues every 10 years after that. “It is never too late to protect ourselves,” says Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, and President and Co-Founder of Modern Dermatology. “We have the opportunity to intervene at any age and start protecting and repairing some of the photo damage.” She recommends being sun-smart by applying a broad-spectrum SPF every day, limiting direct sun exposure, and using topical antioxidants. Check out the 12 things that increase your risk of sun damage.
Myth: You won’t burn in the shade
Actually you can, and UV radiation reflected off nearby surfaces is the culprit here. According to the World Health Organization, even the most seemingly benign surfaces can increase your chances of burning. For example, sea foam reflects 25 percent of UV radiation, sand reflects 15 percent, and even grass, soil, and water reflect a small amount (less than 10 percent). And this isn’t only a problem in summer. Fresh snow nearly doubles your UV exposure; it can also damage and even burn your eyeballs (the technical term for that delightful condition is photokeratitis). Take proper precautions whenever you’re outside during the day. And try to avoid these other common sunscreen mistakes.