5 Sunscreen and Skin Cancer Myths Debunked
Last updated: January 2021
Since sharing my melanoma story on Instagram last year, I've had countless messages about how shocked people are. Everything from "I didn't know someone so young could get it", to "I use a tanning bed all the time and didn't know the risks." You name it, I've heard all of the crazy theories.
Debunking myths about sunscreen & skin cancer
I thought it was time for me to address some of the most common misconceptions and myths about sunscreen and melanoma.
1. I don't burn so I don't need sunscreen
I hear this one all of the time when I speak about the risks of sun exposure. However, the absence of a burn is not an indication that your skin is not damaged. In fact, a suntan is the direct result of sun damage. Everyone is at risk, so you still need to apply sunscreen. A healthy tan is an oxymoron!
2. Sunscreen is bad for your skin
According to melanomapatients.org.au there is no evidence which indicates applying sunscreen regularly to your skin causes long-term damage. A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed although traces of oxybenzone and octinoxate (commonly found in sunscreen) can be found in the bloodstream of users, the risks of not wearing sunscreen far outweigh wearing it.1 If you are concerned about using a chemical-based sunscreen there is the option to use a mineral (zinc) based one.
3. Sunscreen causes breakouts
Gone are the days of only thick white sunscreen options. Now, many skincare and beauty brands have released their own sunscreen. These products are specifically designed to hydrate and avoid clogged pores. If you have sensitive skin or get irritations, a great place to start is Sephora. Often sunscreens that are designed to sit under makeup are a lot better for your skin and won't cause breakouts.
4. Sunbeds are safe
The truth is, a tan is actually a sign your cells are damaged. There is no such thing as a safe tan. According to skincancer.org you are at a 75% increased risk of developing melanoma from just one indoor tanning session before you are 35 years old.2 In fact, sunbeds can be much stronger than the midday sun because of the UV radiation they emit. Fun fact: Indoor tanning beds are completely banned in Australia.
5. I don't have a fair skin tone so I'm not at risk
I hear this one a lot, I have olive skin or I have a darker skin tone so I don't need to worry. This is not true! Everyone is at risk of developing skin cancer. It is true that people with fair skin are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer however, a deeper skin tone does not mean you are immune.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?