MYTH: Tanning at a salon is safer than tanning outdoors — it’s a controlled dose of UV radiation.

FACT: When compared to people who have never tanned indoors, indoor tanners have a higher risk of all forms of skin cancer. A controlled dose of tanning lamp radiation is a high dose: Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual ultraviolet A (UVA) dose they receive from sun exposure. MYTH: Some ingredients in sunscreen can cause cancer.

FACT: Current research shows that when used as directed, sunscreens are safe and effective. The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection program.

MYTH: The sun is the best way to get vitamin D.

FACT: Our bodies can produce some vitamin D following exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. However, after a limited amount of sun exposure (approximately five minutes daily for a Caucasian in New York at 12 PM in summer), vitamin D production reaches its maximum. Further UV exposure will actually break down vitamin D to inactive compounds! Furthermore, sun exposure increased your risk of skin cancer and accelerated skin aging. The safest way to obtain vitamin D is through diet and supplements.

MYTH: I use a sunscreen with an SPF of 50, so I’m all set.

FACT: A sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) indicates that it protects against UVB rays, but you need protection from both UVB and UVA. For effective protection, apply a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen in addition to following our Guidelines. Learn more about sunscreen.

MYTH: People of color don’t get skin cancer.

FACT: People of color are less likely to develop skin cancer than Caucasians, but they have a higher risk of dying from it. A very dangerous and fast-spreading skin cancer known as acral lentiginous melanoma is more common among darker-skinned people and may appear as a suspicious growth in the mucous membranes, under the nails, or on the palms or soles of the feet. Whatever your skin color, protect yourself, perform regular skin self-exams, and obtain aprofessional full-body skin exam every year.

MYTH: Windows protect us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

FACT: While glass does block most UVB rays, UVA radiation can get through. Which means that even indoors or in a car with the windows up, you can tan or burn. However, you can have special window film installed that blocks most UVA radiation as well.

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