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Shedding Light on 7 Sunscreen Myths

Dermatologists debunk common misunderstandings about sunscreen.

Sunscreen Myth #5: I put sunscreen on my face, arms, leg, back, and neck -- so I'm set.

Not so fast. You may have overlooked some key areas.

"The ears and the back of the neck are commonly neglected," Stein says. "You can actually get sunburn on your scalp, so wearing a hat is a good way to get protection. It will also shade your face, and that will give you good face protection."

Don't forget about your lips. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing a lip balm with an SPF of at least 30.

Sunscreen Myth #6: Lotions, sprays, or stick sunscreens work differently.

"There are no real major differences; these are just vehicles for the sunscreen and it depends on what the consumer likes," Spencer says.

"Men often do better with alcohol-based sprays because they don't like greasy products. Women often do better with lotions and creamier products because they like the moisturizing effect," Spencer says. "There are many different sunscreen products to choose from. What's most important is compliance -- if you like the product, you're more likely to use it."

Whatever kind of sunscreen you choose, the American Academy of Dermatology says to put it on dry skin 15-30 minutes before you go outside.

Sunscreen Myth #7: Last year's bottle is still OK.

"You should use enough so that you're not using the same bottle summer after summer. If you're doing it right, you're not going to have leftovers next year," Stein says.

Check the expiration date on your sunscreen bottle.

"Some sunscreens break down quickly, especially the ones that give you UVA protection. So it shouldn't sit in your bathroom cabinet for too long," Stein says.

 Spencer discloses that he has consulted for L'Oreal. Stein reports no disclosures.

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