There are many myths circulating on the topic of sun protection. This can be unclear and, in the worst-case scenario, even lead to not using sunscreen. Protection against UV radiation is an effective remedy against premature skin aging, pimple marks, inflammatory reactions, and certain types of skin cancer. In this article, we dispel six common myths that are always a topic of conversation concerning sun protection and our health.
Myth 1: “Sunscreen is carcinogenic”
That’s not true! Sunscreen is not carcinogenic. This assumption comes from research linking the development of certain types of cancer and the use of sunscreen. The fact is that we have been seeing an increase in cancer cases over the last 10-20 years. At the same time, more people were using sunscreen regularly. This gave rise to the false conclusion that sunscreen is carcinogenic.
However, it is not the use of sunscreen that is leading to an increase in cancer. Instead, it is because we humans are getting older, but at the same time, our lifestyle is becoming more harmful to our health.
In addition, especially in Europe, ingredients for cosmetics and care products are strictly controlled and tested for their health compatibility. If UV filters were proven to be carcinogenic, they would not be allowed to be used in sunscreens. However, UV rays have been proven to be carcinogenic.
Myth 2: “Sunbathing is safe with sunscreen.”
This point is debatable. The fact is that sunbathing in itself, especially without protection, is always a bad idea. It can quickly lead to sunburn, and the risk of skin cancer is significantly increased. Anyone who leaves the house with sunscreen is on the safe side. However, sunscreen does not provide a free pass for extensive sunbathing.
Using sunscreen only extends the skin’s own protection time against UV radiation. On the one hand, against UVB radiation, which is responsible for sunburn, and on the other hand, against UVA radiation, which promotes premature skin aging, for example, wrinkles or pigment spots. Even the best sunscreen cannot absorb too much of the sun’s rays. Therefore, sunscreens offer UV protection but never wholly shield the skin from UV radiation. Here are a few tips for a skin-friendly time in the sun:
- Use sunscreen generously! A small amount of cream does not provide sufficient protection
- Reapply after swimming, even if the sunscreen is “waterproof.”
- Never mix sunscreen with other products! It should be the last step in your care routine (after the exposure time, you can apply makeup without any further action)
- Avoid midday sun and seek shade, as the sunlight is particularly intense at midday
Myth 3: “Sunscreen can contain harmful substances.”
Here, too, we are mainly dealing with a myth. All substances used for skin care in the European Union must not harm our health – at least as long as they are used in the intended concentrations. As is often the case, the dose makes the poison. Even water or salt could be dangerous for us if the amount is too high.
Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that there are substances in sunscreens to which some people individually react with irritation or allergies. Fragrances, perfume, alcohol, or certain care products often cause irritated skin. Ideally, if you have sensitive skin, you should first test every new care product to see if it is compatible with your skin – for example, by applying it to a single area for a few days and observing your skin’s reaction (patch test).
Myth 4: “UV protection causes you to have a vitamin D deficiency.”
The sun is our most important source of vitamin D, as it is only formed in the body in the presence of UV radiation. Many suspect that UV protection can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Is that true? This assumption is a false conclusion and, therefore, a myth!
The reason for the vitamin D deficiency here is not the use of sun protection. UV radiation in our latitudes is so low (especially in winter) that vitamin D should always be supplemented. Regardless, even the slightest exposure to sunlight is enough to damage our skin. That’s why wearing sun protection is always helpful.
Myth 5: “Sunscreen causes pimples”
Another myth that unfortunately persists and is often used as an argument against sunscreen is that it causes breakouts. But where does this assumption come from?
Sunscreens are often available as rich or greasy lotions, sometimes even as oils. This is because most UV filters either do not dissolve in water or only dissolve in other fats. Many sunscreens, therefore, often have a rather greasy consistency. These creams are not ideal for skin types prone to blemishes or breakouts. This can potentially contribute to the formation of pimples.
But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that all sunscreen causes breakouts and oily skin. Instead, it depends on the composition of the creams: ideally, fats that do not promote impurities are used. It can also make sense if the concentration of alcohol is relatively low. This means the UV filters dissolve better, and the cream feels more comfortable. The most suitable products for this are well-tolerated products that nourish, protect, and leave the skin feeling pleasant.
Myth 6: “Sunscreen during pregnancy is harmful”
That’s a myth. Sunscreen also offers reliable protection against UV radiation during pregnancy but should be carefully tested for individual tolerance. Older-generation chemical UV filters are particularly suspected of having a hormonal effect during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Experimental animal studies showed this. In humans, however, the situation is unclear and much more complex. Therefore, no general and official recommendations exist to avoid sun protection during pregnancy. On the contrary, sun protection makes sense here, as the combination of hormonal changes and contact with the sun can lead to incorrect skin pigmentation.
If you want to be safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, pay attention to sun creams with mineral or modern UV filters.
Also Read: 11 Skin Care Tips From Real Beauty Experts