Don’t Believe These 3 Sunscreen Myths

From the dos and don’ts of sun safety to the facts and figures about your potential skin cancer risk factors, you’ve probably heard a lot of conflicting advice over the years. 

And with so much seemingly contradictory information floating around about best ways to protect your skin from the sun’s rays—how can you be sure of what’s really true? 

Here, we take a look at three of the most common notions about the sun and sunscreen, exposing the myths and sharing the real facts you can rely on when it comes to protecting your skin. Armed with the right information and a consistent approach to wearing sunscreen, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy those restorative rays of sunshine all year round, worry-free.

Myth: Wearing sunscreen causes Vitamin D deficiencies

This is a complicated one to unpack, but first thing’s first: the sun really is an excellent “source” of Vitamin D. Your body creates this fat-soluble vitamin in response to the sun’s UVB rays, and the vitamin is credited with helping the body to absorb and retain the minerals (namely, calcium and phosphorus) that support bone health. Vitamin D has also been linked to a reduction in the growth of cancer cells, and it can help manage inflammation in the body. 

So if Vitamin D is good for us, and we can get it naturally from sun exposure, then it’s easy to see where this myth about wearing sunscreen first began. The thinking here is that by blocking the sun’s rays from our skin, we are preventing the absorption of Vitamin D. But this is not strictly true. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clinical studies have never found that everyday sunscreen use leads to a Vitamin D deficiency. 

In fact, “the prevailing studies” they cite suggest the opposite—that those who use sunscreen on a daily basis can maintain proper Vitamin D levels quite easily, thanks to the sunscreen. This is because, while sunscreen does help to block the skin’s exposure to harmful UVB rays, it also allows just enough of these vitamin-rich rays to reach your skin regardless of the SPF. And it turns out, this tiny amount is all you need to produce a healthy level of Vitamin D, year-round.

Myth: The ingredients in sunscreen aren’t safe

When it comes to our health, concerns about certain ingredients tend to arise like clockwork at the start of each summer. Just as we’re preparing to hit the beach, those first headlines hit: Is your sunscreen safe to use? It’s perfectly reasonable to take a close look at the ingredients we put on our skin. But it’s worth noting that both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) maintain that sunscreen is not only safe to use regularly, but that it is a critical tool in the fight against skin cancer. In fact, per the AAD, the use of a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with water resistance and SPF 30 or higher can give you all of the following benefits with daily use:

  • Reduce a person’s risk of developing skin cancer
  • Prevent sunburn
  • Decrease the signs of early aging, such as wrinkles and age spots
  • Stop existing melasma from darkening, and new patches from appearing
  • Reduce the risk of dark spots appearing post-acne, psoriasis or other skin condition

Myth: You only need sunscreen if…

You’ve probably heard more than a few people express variations of these statements: 

You only need to wear sunscreen if you’re fair skinned! 

You really only have to worry about sunscreen in the summer.

Don’t even bother with sunscreen when it’s cloudy, what’s the point? 

These “only if” beliefs take a few different forms, but they all have one thing in common: they aren’t true! Every skin type needs sun protection, every day. 

When it comes to your skin type, it’s certainly true that some people may be more sensitive to the sun’s rays than others—at least, on the surface. For example, some people are apt to freckle or burn easily, while others may gradually and evenly tan. But regardless of your skin color and type, your genetic makeup, and any other factors you may think are protecting you from sun damage—think again. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are still immensely powerful, causing sun damage and premature aging (UVA) along with sun burns and potential skin cancers (UVB). 

And remember, this is true even on cloudy days, as well as in the winter months, even though you may not feel it to the same degree. When in doubt? Make it a general rule to apply sunscreen to all of your exposed skin, every day, so you’ll never be caught off guard.