Sinclair Cares uncovers myths about sun protection

Make sure the words "broad spectrum" are on the label to protect yourself against both UVA and UVB rays. (WEAR-TV)

The sun's rays tempt and tantalize as Breighana Knittel and her daughters hit the beach, but this mom is well aware of the danger.

"Skin cancer runs in my family, and I don't want to take that risk, especially with my kids," Knittel said.

When Bobby Jackson was growing up, he didn't know about sun protection. His skin shows the consequences.

"And I'm not exaggerating. It's probably 40 or 50 different places over the years that have either burned, frozen or cut off," Jackson, a skin cancer patient, said.

The letters SPF -- standing for sun protection factor -- are everywhere. But dermatologist Dr. Sean Branch said there are still a lot of myths about the sun and your skin.

The biggest one is that a "base tan" will protect you from burning later.

"In order for your body to produce a tan to begin with, there has to be DNA damage at the cellular level," Branch said.

So, sun protection is needed, all the time.

To bust some other myths, we asked Knittel to help us with a little quiz.

She started off the day right, putting sunscreen on her kids 15 minutes before going outside.

Question No. 1: How often should you reapply?

"I'm assuming every hour?" Knittel said.

Actually, it's every two hours. Branch said many people don't reapply at all, putting themselves at risk.

Question No. 2: Is a higher SPF number better?

"I do think that makes a difference," Knittel said.

Correct. And the higher the better.

While SPF 30 blocks more than 97 percent of harmful rays, the extra protection in SPF 60 cuts the remaining risk to your skin in half.

Make sure the words "broad spectrum" are on the label to protect yourself against both UVA and UVB rays.

Don't worry about the brand name. Take Jackson's advice and use it consistently.

"I don't wear aftershave lotion anymore," Jackson said. "I wear sunscreen."

The doctor said some people are concerned about chemicals in sunscreens, like oxybenzone. If you want to avoid them, there are a lot of mineral blockers, such as zinc and titanium dioxide.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

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