12 Things That Up Your Risk of Sun Damage

Failing to apply sunscreen isn't the only thing that makes you more likely to get sunburned—so can these habits.

Certain skincare products

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Many anti-aging and acne products work by thinning the outer layer of skin or regulating the production of melanin, a natural pigment that acts as a barrier for sun protection, says Alok Vij, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Look at the labels: If a product contains retinols or vitamin A, glycolic or salicylic acid, or hydroquinone, your skin may be more susceptible to sun damage. Be especially vigilant about seeking out shade, applying sunscreen, and wearing protective clothing and hats. Speaking of sun protection, these are the sunscreen myths that make dermatologists cringe.

Your perfume

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Believe it or not, certain fragrances can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Perfumes scented with lavender, cedar, rosemary, bergamot, and sandalwood often contain sensitizing chemicals, says Sonia Batra, MD, board-certified dermatologist and co-host of The Doctors. When these scents are exposed to sunlight, they can cause skin irritation and inflammatory hyperpigmentation, she says.

Your medicine cabinet


"Certain oral drugs for acne, such as isotretinoin, can greatly increase one's risk of sunburn," says Dr. Batra. "Also, some antidepressants, antihistamines, antibiotics, antifungals, and anti-inflammatories have been known to cause heightened photosensitivity." Be sure to ask your doctor if your meds require you to take additional sun-exposure precautions to prevent sun damage.

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