Think again: a new study has revealed that around half of dark-haired, or olive-skinned and brown-eyed Italians are failing to protect themselves against the sun’s harmful rays, putting them all at risk of developing a melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer.
According to data collected from 2,000 participants last year by My Skincheck, 88 percent of people in this category – known as phototype III and IV – never wear hats while out in the sun.
A total of 74 percent don’t bother with sunglasses - and 95 percent admit never covering up with a T-shirt on the beach.
“Many Italians have dark skin, hair and eyes and mistakenly believe that they don’t need to protect themselves,” Gian Marco Tomassini, a melanoma specialist from the Dermatological Association of Italian Hospitals, told Italian daily Corriere della sera.
There are also many Italians with fair complexions, Tomassini pointed out, who don’t understand the importance of protecting their skin against the sun.
Whatever your skin colour, he warned, “there are two simple messages that we should learn in order to get the maximum benefit from the sun and avoid harm.
"First, know which phototype you belong to in order to avoid sunburn. Second, defending the skin against radiation is important for everyone, regardless of whether you normally get sun-burnt or not.”
The report also criticized the type of sun protection commonly used and how it’s applied.
“Sun lotion should be applied carefully before exposure to the sun on the whole body, without forgetting, for instance, the nape of the neck or the back of the foot,” said Tomassini. “And it’s very important to reapply it regularly during the day, and after especially after bathing or sweating.”