Busted! 5 Worst Excuses for Not Wearing Sunscreen
"I'm afraid the chemicals in sunscreen might increase my cancer risk." — Laura Baugh, 33, Indianapolis
You may have heard that two common sunblock ingredients — oxybenzone, a UV-absorbing compound, and retinyl palmitate, an antioxidant — may actually increase cancer risk. But the research was done on rats, some of which had a high propensity for developing cancer, and some of the doses were astronomically high, says dermatologist Steven Wang. All the experts we talked to said the evidence isn't strong enough to conclude that the substances are harmful. If you're still worried, avoid retinyl palmitate (it's not an active ingredient anyway) and choose mineral-based creams that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide instead of oxybenzone.
"Sunscreen makes me break out." — Jennifer Prosperi, 35, New York City
Waterproofing chemicals seal in oils and sweat, which can cause pimples — and chemical sunscreens are more likely to irritate skin, Wang says. So stick to non-waterproof, mineral-based sunscreens, such as MDSolarSciences Ultra Mineral Screen Gel SPF 50+ ($30, mdsolarsciences.com).
"I need to go without sunscreen to get vitamin D." — Rebecca Frank, 33, Bend, OR
"The safest way to get vitamin D is from a pill or from the food you eat," says oncologist Vernon Sondak. Aim for at least 600 IU per day from supplements or foods such as sockeye salmon (794 IU per 3 ounces) or fortified milk (100 IU per 8 ounces).
"Sunscreen gets into my eyes and makes them burn." — Holly Whitehead, 34, Puyallup, WA;
For sensitive spots around the eyes and on the forehead, dermatologist Allan Halpern recommends using a stick, such as the Supergoop SPF 30+ Sunstick ($14.50, sephora.com), which is less likely than a lotion to be dislodged by water or sweat.
"Some sunscreens are so thick that they won't rub in. I look like Casper!" — Becky Collins, 30, Philadelphia
Opt for sprays, which provide as much protection as lotion without ghostly side effects. "Spray it on liberally and spread it out with your hand," Halpern says. But spread evenly, or "you risk getting a tie-dyed sunburn," he adds.