3 Myths About Sunshine

Medically reviewed in November 2020

Sunlight has a profound effect on our bodies, skin and even our mood. And while there's no shortage of information on how to stay safe in the sun, some facts tend to get skewed. We’re shining some light on the truth about sunlight—and debunking some long-held assumptions.

Myth #1: Sunlight isn’t harmful on a cloudy day.
Fact: You probably remember to wear your sunglasses and apply sunscreen on sunny days, but don’t forget to grab your shades and sunblock when it’s dreary too. UV rays can pierce through clouds on overcast days, potentially damaging your skin and eyes. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology says up to 80 percent of the sun's UV rays pass through clouds.

Myth #2: A suntan is okay—the danger comes from a sunburn.
Fact: It’s simple: any type of suntan indicates damaged skin. No matter how attractive you think a tan looks now, your skin won’t be thanking you later. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the sun causes more than 90 percent of the noticeable changes attributed to skin aging. And while the amount of safe sun exposure depends a good deal on your genetics, limit your time in the sun, especially during the heat of the day, and apply sunscreen to exposed areas. Protecting your skin will help prevent premature skin aging—and a potential skin cancer diagnosis.

Myth #3: I’m safe from UV radiation as long as I’m indoors.
Fact: Depends on where you’re sitting. A small 2010 study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging found that men and women had more skin damage (sagging skin, wrinkles, brown spots) on one side of their faces than on the other. And although they worked indoors, the side that showed more skin problems was the one closer to the window during the workday. That’s because at least 50 percent of UVA rays can still penetrate through glass—even in your car. A simple fix: put up window film. It’s effective in blocking almost all UV radiation. 

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