Summer Safety Series: 5 of the Most Common Sunscreen Myths DEBUNKED!

We’re debunking 5 of the most common sunscreen myths to help you understand the important role sunscreen plays in protecting your skin from too much unprotected sun exposure and decreasing your chances of developing skin cancer.

What have you been told about sunscreen?

It’s harmful…useless…or unnecessary?

If you’ve felt any of the above sentiments before about sunscreen then chances are you’ve fallen for one of the five most common myths about sunscreen.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. yet practicing sun safety is often overlooked. Remember, it only takes one severe sunburn to potentially double your chances of getting skin cancer in the future.

Health myths can be dangerous and are detrimental to our well-being. Therefore, we’re debunking 5 of the most common myths about sunscreen to reduce your chances of developing skin cancer and to help you understand the importance of applying sunscreen.

5 of the Most Common Sunscreen Myths Debunked  

  • Myth #1 Sunscreen Causes Cancer

Perhaps the most popular myth out there about sunscreen and the reason why many are reluctant to apply sunscreen; sunscreen, in fact, does NOT cause cancer. There is no medical evidence nor has there ever been any medical evidence to suggest sunscreen causes cancer. According to Harvard Health Publishing, most sunscreens contain two active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which act as physical blockers to the sun and do not penetrate the skin’s natural barrier. Applying sunscreen can minimize the harmful long-term effects of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. You may not know the best sunscreen to use for your child. When choosing a sunscreen, choose a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Those are the two safest ingredients. Make sure the sunscreen has a sun protection factor of 30 SPC or higher and is labeled broad spectrum. Broad-spectrum means the sunscreen block is both UVA and UVB sunlight.

  • Myth #2 Sunscreen Is Only Necessary When I’m Out in the Sun

One of the biggest misconceptions about sunscreen is it’s only needed when you’re outside in the sun. Sunscreen should be applied every day no matter if you’re indoors or outside on a cloudy day. Sunscreen is vital in protecting your skin against melanoma. When applying sunscreen, make sure you apply sunscreen to all parts of your body exposed to sunlight. Typically, people forget to apply sunscreen to areas of the body such as the face, back of the knees, ears, eyes, neck, and scalp. Be sure to apply sunscreen to those areas as well to protect them from the sun’s UVB Rays. UVB Rays cause sunburns, cataracts, melanoma, and harmful effects on the immune system.

  • Myth #3: Applying Sunscreen Once a Day is Enough

Applying sunscreen once a day is not sufficient. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours with a sun protection factor of 30 SPC or higher every day. The sun’s rays are strongest from 10:00 am-4:00 pm. Therefore, try avoiding this time frame when considering spending time outdoors. Or try to stay in the shade when the sun’s rays are at its strongest. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a combination of water, sweat, and sunlight can break down sunscreen’s effectiveness, therefore it’s important to continue to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours especially when you’re in the sun during this time to protect your skin.

  • Myth #4: Only People with Lighter Skin Tones Need Sunscreen

Another common and big misconception about sunscreen is only people with lighter skin types need to apply sunscreen every day. Everyone needs to apply and reapply sunscreen daily no matter your skin type. The American Academy of Dermatology and The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provide the following chart which recognizes six skin type categories and answers the question of “Who needs to use sunscreen?”:  

Skin TypeSun HistoryExample
IAlways burns easily, never tans, extremely sensitive skinRed-headed, freckles, Irish/Scots/Welsh II
IIAlways burns easily, tans minimally, sun-sensitive skinFair-skinned, fair-haired, blue, or green-eyed, Caucasians
IIISometimes burns, tans gradually to light brown, sun-sensitive skinAverage skin
IVBurns minimally, always tans to moderate brown, minimally sun sensitiveMediterranean-type Caucasians
VRarely burns, tans well, sun insensitive skinMiddle Eastern, some Hispanics, some African Americans
VINever burns, deeply pigmented, sun insensitive skinAfrican Americans
  • Myth #5: Sun-tanning with Sunscreen Is Safe.

Sun-tanning even if you apply sunscreen is not safe despite the wide common belief that it is. There is NO SAFE WAY to tan. A suntan is the skin’s response to injury from the sun’s rays and occurs when the sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin’s inner layer which causes the skin to produce more melanin in response to the injury. Keep in mind chronic exposure to the sun can result in sunburn, wrinkling, age spots, or even melanoma. Tanning accumulates further damage to the skin and increases the risk for all types of skin cancer.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Practicing sun safety is the key to maintaining sunburn-free skin and reducing your chances of developing skin cancer.

Be sure to apply and reapply sunscreen daily with a sun protection factor of 30 SPC or higher.

Healthy skin is paramount to good health.

 If you start to develop signs and symptoms of melanoma or sunburn that is more than you can handle, then seek medical care immediately at one of our Trusted ER locations near you.

We have 3 locations where we provide the best-in-class healthcare to patients in the most comfortable environment with exceptional care. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Summer Safety Series

For more in-depth tips on how you and your child can stay happy and healthy and prepare for a fun and safe summer, check out our Summer Safety Series.

Have a fun and sunburn free summer!