Sunscreen might get in your eyes. Deal with it. With those evil summer rays starting to beat down, Consumer Reports Health ran a survey to see who was using sunscreen. The good news: About 69% of respondents slather it on at least sometimes. The bad: Even the most avid sun worshippers tend to skip sunscreen when they’re doing outdoor activities other than sunbathing, like running. Top reasons for avoiding sunscreen include the possibility of it getting in your eyes, and having sand stick to your skin. Yeah, we’d risk skin cancer for that, too. [Consumer Reports Health]


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  1. bazaar_apparatus says:

    I’ve started using spray-on sunscreen and it owns. Way better than spending all that time rubbing in lotion when you could be swimming or whatever.

  2. wardawg says:

    The public at large is geared towards short term gain over long term loss, as evidenced by the plethora of other incredibly stupid and unhealthy things people do.

    <insert rant(s) about the evils of fast food, smoking, drinking, drugs, etc. here>

  3. dohtem says:

    I am reminded of those mock commercials from RoboCop:

    Sunblock 5000 Woman: [Fake Commercial] They say that 2 minutes in the California sunshine, is too much these days. After we lost the ozone layer. But, that was before there was Sunblock 5000. Just apply a pint to your body, and you’re good for hours.
    [Then a red box appears saying “Surgeon General’s Warning: Frequent use will cause skin cancer”]

  4. mdoublej says:

    I started using some NO-AD SPF 15 as my daily moisturizer. It’s cheaper than anything else I have used before, and works great.

    • Keter says:

      @mdoublej: I use No-AD 45 for intense Texas sun. Yes, it’s the best on the market, and the only one I’ve found that doesn’t immediately burn and later make me break out in hives. I’m not sure about using it as a daily moisturizer on my face, though. I use a UV filtering moisturizer specifically for the face (SPF 15) and wear a hat. Seems to work – no wrinkles at age 48. :o)

  5. Etoiles says:

    Because sunscreen makes my skin break out into a horrible rash. *sigh*

    If you need me, I’ll be the pasty white pale person over there under the tree, in the shade, wearing the long pants and long sleeves in July.

    • CFinWV says:

      unobservant: “CONCLUSIONS: Advice given to sunscreen users should be to apply sunscreen liberally to exposed sites 15 to 30 minutes before going out into the sun, followed by reapplication of sunscreen to exposed sites 15 to 30 minutes after sun exposure begins. Further reapplication is necessary after vigorous activity that could remove sunscreen, such as swimming, toweling, or excessive sweating and rubbing.”([])

      • CFinWV says:

        @CFinWV: Doh, I’m having comments issues today, this should’ve gone under another comment. Disregard… these are not the droids you’re looking for.

    • mythago says:

      @Etoiles: You’ll just get reflected sunlight bouncing off the leaves. I recommend just staying indoors.

      • Keter says:

        @mythago: I think the SPF of deep shade is pretty high. The body requires a certain amount of sunlight on a regular basis to make vitamin D and to stimulate production of melatonin, so staying indoors all the time is not a healthy option. Incidental sunlight exposure and sitting outside in good shade (not in proximity to a highly reflective surface like water, snow, or concrete) without sunblock should not constitute an elevated risk of melanoma for otherwise healthy people. Each person should observe how their skin reacts (or doesn’t react) to various conditions and determine their own safe exposure levels, as this will vary greatly between individuals.

    • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

      @Etoiles: The same thing is starting to happen to me, mostly my neck and chest, sometimes my arms. And I need to be careful as I have an extremely high risk of melanoma. Sucks. As I type this my neck is itching like mad.

    • Keter says:

      @Etoiles: As I commented elsewhere, try No-AD brand. I’m allergic to everything else, but not that one. You also might try zinc-oxide based formulas, which also don’t seem to trigger allergic reactions (but I have trouble with these blocking my sweat glands and giving me a heat rash).

  6. Tzepish says:

    I use something called “the darkness”. Basically, I find a large structure, such as a house or a cave, and I conduct my business within the structure. The top of it (or “roof”) blocks the sunlight from making direct contact with my skin.

  7. Joe Lachiana says:

    Sunscreen has nothing to do with avoiding skin cancer. Not burning up in the sun keeps away skin cancer along with healthy living which unfortunately includes light sun exposure.

    Doctors push SPF cause they make money off of it and nothing else. $10K/year to get that “dermatologist approved” label. If you google some of the ingredients in that NO AD and you’ll never use it again.

    SPF is ok to keep you from burning up but does nothing to keep away skin cancer. In fact everyone has some form of skin cancer on them at all times. Any lump, discoloration, is a type of skin cancer. MELANOMA is the killer and more people die from a trip and fall than from that.

    You know what, how about people just GET OUT SIDE and stop worrying about the sky falling?


    • calquist says:

      @Joe Lachiana: Maybe, but I’ll still stick with the sunscreen because being sunburned sucks in every way, shape and form and it can’t be good for you.

      /glances at her poor peeling back. yuck.

      • Joe Lachiana says:


        Well if you are planning on staying in the sun until your skin burns off then go for it. To apply it as moisturizer under the impression that it’s “better to be safe than sorry” is not good as you need to get some sun or you risk much worse fate than a skin lump.

        You’d be surprised how BAD it is to use SPF in your face creme when most people only get sun on their faces during the day when walking to and from work or the car.

        There are more problems from under exposure to the sun than there is overexposure thanks to SPF overkill.

        • wcnghj says:

          @Joe Lachiana: Even if it isn’t as effect as advertised, it DOES prevent sunburns when used properly…

          • duncanfj says:

            @wcnghj: SPF is not an ingredient in sunscreen, it is a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to block UVB rays. UVB is what causes you to develop cancer. If you block the UVB rays, you will not get cancer from sunlight. If you are worried about toxic chemicals, look for sunscreens that have titanium dioxide. It is safe, and is a physical barrier, unlike chemical barriers which rapidly break down.

    • floraposte says:

      @Joe Lachiana: Wow. That’s a really, really bad article. For one thing, it makes it sound like melanoma is the only skin cancer, and it’s not even the most common kind. It would be bad to develop one’s sun policy from this piece.

      As has been noted, you’ve got a few misunderstandings in your response as well, but let’s stick to the basics: sunscreen can in fact be an effective defense against skin cancer.

    • floraposte says:

      @Joe Lachiana: Oh, and while there have been indications that there are issues with low Vitamin D levels, there’s not much indication that that’s a greater problem than skin cancer or that that’s a result of people’s using sunscreen. So I think that there’s some confusion here between recency of news and significance of news.

    • nakedscience says:

      @Joe Lachiana: You can still get plenty of sun while wearing sunscreen. That article is bunk.

  8. dohtem says:

    Do you also use that modern sorcery called “AC”?

  9. unobservant says:

    My baby sister noticed that I was applying sunscreen outdoors and told me that one must apply sunscreen indoors fifteen minutes before going outside to avoid the risk of being burned.

    That sounds like some weird urban myth, and I’m too lazy to look it up. Would anyone like to chime in with their educated guesses?

    • MauriceCallidice says:

      @unobservant: Most sunscreen labels will tell you to apply 15-30 minutes before sun exposure.

    • CFinWV says:

      @unobservant: Though I guess it’s better than nothing, right?

      • CFinWV says:

        @CFinWV: Weird, my other comment didn’t show up…. CONCLUSIONS: Advice given to sunscreen users should be to apply sunscreen liberally to exposed sites 15 to 30 minutes before going out into the sun, followed by reapplication of sunscreen to exposed sites 15 to 30 minutes after sun exposure begins. Further reapplication is necessary after vigorous activity that could remove sunscreen, such as swimming, toweling, or excessive sweating and rubbing.

        Found here: []

        • CubeRat says:


          It did show up, just a few posts above yours under Etoiles comment. I first read it and didn’t understand what you were talking about.

          But now I know, and knowing is half the battle :P

    • thegirls says:

      @unobservant: This rule applies mostly to sunscreens made with chemical based SPF rather than the sunscreens that utilize mostly physical blockers (usually titanium dioxide and zinc oxide).

      • thegirls says:

        @thegirls: Oops, I submitted above comment before I finished… As a general rule tt takes 20-30 minutes for sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin and it can be rubbed off very easily, so apply it at least half an hour before going out in the sun. They say to reapply after half an hour so that the ‘mountains’ as well as the ‘valleys’ are protected (imagine you are painting a wall – two coats of paint provide a more even cover than one).

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @thegirls: Why is it it rubs off easily, but I still smell nasty and sun-screen-y for two days after using it? :P

          • thegirls says:

            @David Brodbeck: Because you’re using the wrong kinda sunscreen. It doesn’t have to be stinky to be effective. I use Vanicream because it works great on sensitive skin and doesnt have any fragrance or parabens and it works!

  10. Rachael Hubbard says:

    I just got back from a bike ride to the library (my first time ever using one of those bike-lock thingamajigs they have there, fancy!) and then a picnic lunch in the park. I totally sunscreened up (think of it like Barney’s “Suit up!”) before I left the house!

    God bless spray-on sunscreen! I love that junk! I wear it every day now, especially on my left arm (driving arm…)

  11. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    Man, and I feel guilty for skipping sunscreen when I go from the parking lot to the building. :)

    • thegirls says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Me too. Look at the faces of people that rarely wear sunscreen. If they drive a car, they usually develop a higher amount of sun damage (sunspots, wrinkling, sagging, etc.) on the left side of their face where they get lots of sun exposure from the driver side window.

      Sun exposure for Vitamin D and mood is good, but total lack of responsible use of the right kind of sunscreen is bad in more ways than just skin cancer.

    • mythago says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): AS WELL YOU SHOULD.

      Grats on the mini-Eyebrow!

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!):

      Use moisturizer has sunscreen in it. Oil of Olay, baby! Under ten dollars at Walmart!

      (I splurged and use the $12 Garnier Skin Renew at night, just because I like the way it smells. :D A girl’s gotta have her little luxuries!)

      • floraposte says:

        @HogwartsAlum: Thought I’d heard that one doesn’t have broad spectrum coverage, just UVB?

        I guess they’re trying to regularize standards for UVA coverage, now that they know we should be getting it, but in the meantime it’s a little frustrating trying to figure this out. Fortunately, I’m mostly an inside person when the sun gets hot.

        • HogwartsAlum says:


          No, I don’t think so, but for the few minutes you are outside going to the car, etc. it works okay. And it keeps your skin nice with no greasy feel.

          That Garnier stuff I use at night so the sun’s not out anyway.

  12. MauriceCallidice says:

    Just make sure you still get your Vitamin D.


  13. golddog says:

    I don’t use sunscreen but that’s just b/c I prefer to carry a lacy fancy boy parasol with me everywhere I go.

  14. jokono says:
    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @jokono: In small amounts, according to your link: ‘5 or 10 minutes a day of casual exposure is probably all you need.’

      If you’re out running as mentioned in this post, or engaging in other lengthy outdoor activities, you’re probably going to be out there longer that five or ten minutes and you’ll be getting continuous, direct exposure.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @jokono: Maybe it’s good for you. I can’t spend more than half an hour or so outside without getting burned, if I don’t use sunscreen.

    • nakedscience says:

      @jokono: SOME sun is good for you. Even according to the article you posted.

  15. Dennis Frank says:

    I’m sorry, but I’m not about to start putting on sunscreen every time I need to go outside…

    • Joe Lachiana says:

      @Dennis Frank:

      And I’m sure you aren’t putting on scuba gear every time it rains cause you know what they say about breathing in water…you drown.

      If the sun was really that dangerous there’d be no life at the equator and it’s where life begins and thrives. Skin cancer goes UP as you travel away from the equator not down.
      Billions of years and in the last 50 we need to worry about the sun. Ok. I guess it’s a free country.

      • thegirls says:

        @Joe Lachiana: Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. This is because over 30% of the population is of Irish descent.

      • David Brodbeck says:

        @Joe Lachiana: People didn’t worry too much about sun damage back when you lived to age 55, your heart exploded, and you died. Now that we’re living longer we’re suffering from more long-term illnesses. Plus, the ozone layer was a bit thicker 50 years ago. ;)

      • duncanfj says:

        @Joe Lachiana: Skin cancer does not go up as you travel away from the equator, deaths from skin cancer go up. That study was conducted in the 1930s. Think about the equator during that time period. How many people do you think were living long enough to die from skin cancer?

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @duncanfj: There’s also the not so small factor that people originally from the equator are adapted to it, while Johnny-come-latelies, not so much.

  16. Cybrczch says:

    One other helpful hint – after swimming, reapply sunscreen instead of sitting by pool to dry off first and falling asleep in the lounge chair (looks at co-worker who is baked Sooner Red)

  17. Joe Lachiana says:

    That spray on SPF is ABSOLUTE GARBAGE. True SPF is not clear. Talk about false sense of security.

  18. nobodyman says:

    It definitely keeps you from getting burned, but supposedly the notion that sunscreen prevents cancer may be untrue. This NYT Article is really interesting. Not sure if I buy it, but ultimately it seems that avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun is your best bet.

    • duncanfj says:

      @nobodyman: Sunscreens containing a physical barrier do work. UVB is the primary cause for skin cancer (at least non-melanoma skin cancers, although some melanomas also arise from UVB exposure as well). Block the UVB rays from penetrating your skin and you greatly reduce your chances of developing skin cancer.

    • oneandone says:

      @nobodyman: Yes – which fits in with the FDA and CDC’s position that sunscreen should be part of what you do to prevent sunburn and skin cancer. Covering yourself in lotion / spray isn’t enough for many people (like me), so I add the hat, some long sleeves, and avoid some peak hours of sun, especially when I’m out closer to the equator.

  19. Outrun1986 says:

    I have done fine with just one application before I go in the sun, and I have been using sunscreen on a pasty white body for years. Although I have to admit I do a pretty heavy application. The only time you have to reapply is after excessive sweating (like an outdoor workout) or if you are in the water.

    If you are in the water all day you should definitely be doing an application every couple hours. You can’t stay in the water all day on just one application of sunscreen. Its a pain but the only way to not burn while in the water. Better yet don’t stay all day in the water, but I know people who do regardless (stay in the water from 9am till sunset) so that warning goes out to them!

    If you put sunscreen on and you jump in the water right after then that is probably pointless, wait at least 15 min before jumping in or put it on before you leave and it will dry while you are in the car. If your in the house just wait 15 min before getting in the pool.

    • duncanfj says:

      @Outrun1986: Then you’ve probably been using a sunscreen with a physical barrier, like titanium dioxide. Be careful to stay away from those using a chemical barrier.

  20. laserjobs says:

    Sunscreen is good if you have to be in the sun for a prolonged period but I am guessing that eventually using sunscreen mst of the time will casue cancer and not prevent it. Just be smart and limit your direct exposure to the sun and you won’t need to put toxic chemicals on your skin.

    • Anitra says:

      @laserjobs: Limit your direct exposure to the sun… by becoming an overweight hermit? Once there IS sun in these environs, I want to get outdoors and DO things again (bike, swim, walk, whatever).

  21. LilBadKitty says:

    I’ll put in my two cents and say that sunshine – in small doses – is essential for your health. We need Vitamin D and the sun is the most effective way to get it. I live in northern MN where we spend most of the year huddled under heavy clothes. Vitamin D defiency is pretty common up here and is a big risk factor for a lot of health problems – including cancer. My oncologist said we only need about 15-20 minutes of sun/day so it makes sense to take precautions if you’re going to be out in the sun for hours. He’s also a bit concerned about all the carcinogens in cosmetics and sunscreen so sometimes I think I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

    • HogwartsAlum says:


      Drink your fortified milk!

      I put my pool so in the afternoon when I am usually in it, it’s in the shade. I hate wearing sunglasses when swimming (or rather, floating around with a drink).

  22. Juliet McCartan says:

    titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are used for sun blocks, which are superior to chemical sun screens.. they don’t leave much of an odor and you don’t have to wait as long as you do with the chemical screens.

    The down side? They leave a white film on your skin. Remember pictures of people from the 50s with a white streak on their noses?

  23. RandomHookup says:

    I burn just by looking out the window. A little SPF 250 and I look just like a ghost. A sexy ghost, that is.

  24. Brazell says:

    Being Irish and Polish I lather the damn stuff on. I only burn, I don’t tan. Puting on sunscreen and jumping in the water is not pointless… and I have years of beach going to prove that, as I haven’t gotten a real sunburn in years.

  25. synergy says:

    I don’t use it because of the smell. It is overpowering and even those that claim to be scentless smell strong to me. The other day I got stuck in line in-between two batches of tennis players and the smell coming off them from the sunscreen/block was so powerful that I actually felt light-headed and nauseated. Slathering on that much chemical can’t be good either. I’ll just cover up and limit time outside, thanks.