Sunscreen Myths Debunked

Life is riddled with old wives’ tales: don’t sit too close to the TV or you’ll go blind, don’t swim 30 minutes after eating, don’t cross your eyes or they’ll get stuck that way — you’ve probably even heard a few sunscreen myths. Given all the scientific advancements of the past century, you’d think that belief in these myths would be dwindling, but it’s not. Mothers everywhere still tell their children to back away from the TV, and people still pick up pennies off the sidewalk hoping for good luck. Regardless of whether there is any validity to these superstitions, people will do just about anything to feel a little safer, healthier, or happier. Let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly believed sunscreen myths.

Sunscreen Lotion Isn’t Always Necessary

Many people believe that sunscreen isn’t always necessary, especially on cloudy days or when they don’t plan to spend much time outside, but the truth is that ultraviolet rays are always present, whether you can see the sun or not. Even spending a few minutes outside a day without protection can add up, leading to sun spots, wrinkles, and even scarring. Vanity aside, daily sunscreen usage also dramatically decreases your risk of developing skin cancer. According to a clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, regular sunscreen use reduced the incidence of melanoma by 50–73 percent.

Sunscreen Is Bad for You

This myth stems from an antiquated study conducted on oxybenzone, an active ingredient in many sunscreens. In the study, rats exposed to oxybenzone experienced negative side effects. However, according to a research letter posted to the Archives of Dermatology, the levels of oxybenzone exposure in this study were extremely high and not attainable in humans, even with regular and liberal application. It should also be noted that the rats were exposed to oxybenzone orally and not topically, greatly increasing absorption. So, unless you’re eating sunscreen daily, you’ll be alright. For those that are still hesitant about oxybenzone, many sunscreen products — including our Cabana collection — are made without the use of oxybenzone.

People with Dark Skin Don’t Need Sunscreen

It’s a common misconception that people with more melanin do not need sunscreen. While melanin does diffuse UVB rays and, to some extent, offer protection against sunburns, it does not protect against UVA damage, the main cause of premature skin aging and wrinkles. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that cancer survival rates were lower in people with darker skin. So, whether you have dark skin or not, it’s still recommended that you take precaution when spending time in the sun.

You Can’t Tan While Wearing Sunscreen

First off, we’d like to say that there’s no such thing as a safe tan. A tan is literally your body’s response to being injured by UV exposure. Yet, people still see it as a sign of health and beauty. Sunscreen helps to protect your skin against UVB and UVA rays but does not offer complete protection. It is still possible to get a tan while using sunscreen, even with regular reapplication. In the long run, the better you protect your skin from the sun, the healthier your skin will remain as you age. If you just can’t say no to that golden glow, we recommend exploring sunless tanners that can help you achieve that bronzed look without putting your skin in jeopardy.

All Sunscreens are the Same

It’s a common misconception that sunscreen is sunscreen, but this simply isn’t true. Different sunscreens offer different levels of protection. Most sprays and lotions have different SPF coverages, and some active ingredients, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, work to filter out UVB and UVA rays. Other ingredients, such as avobenzone, work as chemical blockers. This is why it’s important to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that works to protect your skin in different ways.  As far as choosing the right SPF for your skin type, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for any extended outdoor activity. Regardless of the SPF, though, it’s important to apply one ounce 30 minutes before going outside and reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.

While these are just a few of the many misconceptions about sunscreen, understanding the truth about these myths can help you use sunscreen more effectively. As general advice, no matter the weather or your location, you should wear at least an SPF 30 daily to help protect your skin from harmful UVB and UVA rays.