by Shayne Benowitz
If you’re vacationing in Key West, chances are you will be spending plenty of time in the sun, whether you’re snorkeling at the reef, lounging by the pool, and even cruising Duval Street. Having been raised a sun worshipper, I know the value of SPF protection, and so should you.
With the American Cancer Association’s huge campaign to educate the public about skin cancer and the effects of the sun’s harmful rays, I am shocked to still see so many people misinformed about how to use sunscreen properly, or not use it at all. Some mates at Key West’s Fury think that a dab of sunscreen on their nose will protect them for the whole day. Day after day, I see customers on our boats with painful sunburns. Here are 5 myths I’d like to clear up:
MYTH #1: If I put on sunscreen, I won’t get tan.
FACT: Hello! If you put on sunscreen, you won’t get burnt. I’m out in the sun every day and I can’t slather on enough SPF 45 to prevent sunburn. My tan shows through pretty well, and the days when I come home with tender skin are few and far between. I prefer Coppertone Oil Free SPF 45, available at any pharmacy or grocery store.
MYTH #2: I have an olive complexion. I’m in the sun all the time. I’m immune. I don’t burn.
FACT: Yes, you do. I tan very easily, but if I don’t protect my skin with sunscreen, I go from being beautifully brown to an unattractive rosy shade just as easily. Not only do you want to avoid sunburn and skin cancer, but don’t you want to protect your skin from premature aging? I know I do. I love the perks of a job where I get a great tan, but I don’t want to pay for it twenty years from now with saggy, sunspotted skin.
MYTH #3: I put sunscreen on this morning.
FACT: And you’ve been out in the sun and swimming in the ocean for how long? You must reapply every 90 minutes and directly after you go for a swim. Also, sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure in order for it to absorb and become effective.
MYTH #4: I use tanning oil with SPF 4.
FACT: Uh, yeah, that’s not going to cut it. The south Florida sun is harsh, and you’re going to need at least a broad spectrum SPF 30. Seriously, the tanning part is going to happen.
MYTH #5: I put a little on my face and on my shoulders. I’m fine.
FACT: But your whole body is exposed to the sun. True, pay careful attention to the delicate skin on your face and your vulnerable shoulders, but you should be coating your body with sunscreen from head to toe. Catching some shade and covering up at some point in the day is a good idea, too. But remember, a t-shirt doesn’t have SPF, and you can still burn through your cover up.
The moral of the story is really very simple. Put your sunscreen on before you get in the sun, reapply, and enjoy your day in Key West.
Shayne Benowitz is a Fury Water Adventures crewmember and freelance writer who is working on her debut novel. Shayne can be reached at [email protected] and visit her website at http://web.me.com/shaynebeth/.