Despite decades of public health campaigns, skin cancer remains a major threat to health in Australia, with more cases diagnosed each year than all other cancers combined.
Skin cancer rates remain high and sunburn is all too common in Australia.
Our research looks at how best to inform people about the hazards of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, including by evaluating and testing shade, as well as the development of wearable UV indicators including stickers and wristbands. While this technology can help to improve people's sun protection habits, we continue to come up against some common myths about sunburn.
Watch: What's actually happening to your skin when you tan? Post continues below video.
As we're in the middle of summer, it seems a good time to debunk some of these.
Myth 1: "You can't get burnt in the shade"
Effective shade can provide protection from the sun's UV rays, but we can still get burnt in the shade.
Shade materials with holes or gaps can allow penetration by UV radiation.
Similarly, solid roof structures with wide overhangs and little sky view provide greater UV radiation protection than smaller structures.
Reflected UV radiation is another factor that means you're not always safe in the shade. The sun's rays reflect from light-coloured surfaces and can bounce back under shade.
Light surfaces, such as concrete, light-coloured paint or metallic surfaces, reflect more than dark ones. Sand can reflect as much as 25 per cent of UV radiation. This means if you're sitting under a beach umbrella, UV radiation can still damage your skin, even though you feel like you're covered in the shade.
Myth 2: "You're safe from the sun when in water"
Up to 40 per cent of total UV radiation hits the body even half a metre below the surface of the water, according to SunSmart.
Ordinarily, you would have to dive at least 2.5m inshore and 4.5m in offshore coastal waters to avoid harmful UV radiation. This is because offshore waters tend to be clearer, so UV can penetrate further, whereas inshore waters tend to have sediment and nutrients that can cause a rapid decline in UV.