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Myth Buster: ALL skin types need sunscreen

Madelyn Fernstrom provides sun safety tips for all skin types for the summer.
Image: Hispanic mother rubbing sunscreen on daughter at beach
Erik Isakson / Getty Images/Blend Images


Some skin types don’t need sunscreen


ALL skin types need sunscreen to prevent sunburn and the health-damaging effects of UV rays from the sun.

When thinking about sun protection, a common idea is that those with pale skin and light eyes are the people who really need sunscreen to prevent both sun damage and sunburn, while it’s much less important for darker skin tones. But nothing could be further from the truth!

All skin tones must be protected from the sun to prevent damage, with the same protection needed for darker and lighter skin types. In fact, darker skin types are more likely to have the added problem of discoloration or melasma (uneven skin tone). And exposure to the sun can make this worse. Darker skin types need the same UVA and UVB protection as lighter skin types.

Here are some easy tips for sun safety for all skin types:

-Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, with an SPF of at least 30.

-Reapply sunscreen during the day – about every 80-90 minutes, especially after swimming.

-Limit your time in the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s rays are the strongest.

-Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that provide UVA and UVB protection.

-After showering, use a moisturizer regularly to trap water in the skin to maintain hydration.

Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.