Fiction: While the source of sun damage is UV radiation, the actual damage occurs for several hours following exposure. So just because you stepped out of the sun’s rays, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear when it comes to protecting your skin.
A 2015 study at Yale University found that sunlight continues to damage people’s skin and increase the risk of cancer for four hours after they leave the beach and head indoors. The Yale team showed in the journal Science that the melanin in our skin absorbs the UV radiation and then sets off a series of chemical reactions, which release the energy—similar to what happens with fireflies when they produce light and glow with their energy.
The result is ongoing damage to the skin’s DNA for over four hours after the UV exposure. “Half or more of this kind of DNA damage is not happening on the beach,” says the lead researcher, “It’s in the car on the way home.”
Even though sun exposure may be inevitable some days, arm yourself against the harmful UV radiation by applying a broad spectrum sunscreen throughout the day, wearing protective clothing and avoiding peak UV exposure hours.