Stop Making Excuses, Start Using Sunscreen

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Despite the fact that women know they should wear sunscreen every day of the year, only 31 percent do, according to a recent poll by Prevention.com.

And many of those who skip SPF feel guilty about it--so much so that 31 percent admit they've fibbed about putting on sunscreen because they're embarrassed about their bad habit.

So what gives? If we all know that sunscreen helps to protect our skin from cancer and prevent signs of aging such as spots and wrinkles, why aren't more of us using it?

To find out, Prevention asked dermatologists to share some of the most common excuses women give for going outdoors unprotected. Read on and you'll discover there's really no good reason to skimp on sunscreen--you'll be healthier (and younger looking!) if you use it.

Excuse #1: "The chemicals in sunscreen are probably more dangerous than sun exposure."

Sunscreens have gotten some bad press lately, including claims that they contain cancer-causing ingredients. But a recently published review of the studies on which these claims are based should ease fears. "Many of the safety concerns are not well founded--they're based on petri dish or animal data that doesn't relate to humans," says Steven Wang, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, NJ, and coauthor of the review. For example, in one study, mice fed a whopping dose of oxybenzone, a UV-light absorber commonly found in sunscreens, exhibited estrogenic effects, which the researchers believe could cause cancer cells to grow more rapidly. But by Dr. Wang's calculations, it would take more than 250 years for someone who uses sunscreen daily to be exposed to the amount of oxybenzone used in the study.

Still worried? Use a sunscreen like Beyond Coastal Natural SPF 30 Sunscreen ($16; beyond coastal.com), which has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in lieu of chemical sunscreens.

Excuse #2: "I don't get a lot of sun."

You don't have to be on the beach to soak up rays. Most people rack up 14 hours of casual UV exposure per week. And in one study, short spurts of UVA light twice a week resulted in significant damage to the fibers that keep skin smooth and firm in just 12 weeks. Makeup and a daily lotion with SPF are great steps, but "the protection is short-lived on hot, sunny days," says NYC dermatologist Arielle Kauvar, MD. Use a sweat-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on all sun-exposed areas to be safe.

Excuse #3: "It's a drag to reapply sunscreen."

Five minutes every 2 hours--that's all it takes to apply the 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen recommended for protection when you're in a bathing suit or outdoors for extended periods. And when it's time to reapply, new sprays like Aveeno Hydrosport Sunblock Spray SPF 85 ($10; drugstores) make it less of a hassle and even adhere to wet skin. Easy, right?

Excuse #4: "Sunscreen is too expensive."

As long as you pick one that clearly states it blocks both UVA and UVB rays, there's no need to break the bank when buying. "Research doesn't show any relationship between price and protection," reports Dr. Wang. Try Banana Boat Ultra Defense SPF 30 Continuous Clear Spray ($10; drugstores).

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More from Prevention:

Best anti-aging skin care products

6 New easy to use sunscreens

8 Foods for seriously pretty skin

16 Skin care tips derms do themselves

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