Skip to main content

7 Sunscreen Myths Demystified By the Experts

Here's what you really need to know.
7 Sunscreen Myths Demystified By the Experts

Sunscreen myths are a dime a dozen, which, simply put, is downright dangerous. You can separate fact from fiction in our natural sunscreen guide. And for more tips on how to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays, we caught up with Dr. Ali Hendi, renowned skin cancer surgeon and co-founder of luxury-natural UPF clothing brand Luminora. She decodes those misconceptions and set you on the path to having fun in the sun.

1. MYTH: Darker complexions do not need as much sun protection.

FACT: Uninformed sunscreen myths like this leaves people of color vulnerable to the sun’s damaging UV rays, which can penetrate all types of skin, regardless of your ethnicity.

Dr. Hendi warns, "Although the incidence of skin cancer is lower in African-Americans and Hispanics than in Caucasians, studies have shown that skin cancers detected in darker-skinned individuals are often detected at a later stage leading to higher morbidity and mortality."

2. MYTH: A daily moisturizer with sunscreen will give you all-day coverage.

FACT: Sunscreen, no matter the form, needs to be reapplied every 2 hours.

That, and the SPF in your moisturizer may not be broad-spectrum or have an SPF rating sufficient enough for proper all-day protection. Dr. Hendi also reminds us, “The protection from sunscreen fades within a few hours. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and/or after sweating or getting wet,” noting that most people do not apply enough sunscreen or reapply as often as they should.

3. MYTH: You don't have to wear sunscreen on cloudy and overcast days.

FACT: One of the more common sunscreen myths floating around, it’s important to always apply sunscreen on cloudy days, despite not feeling the heat from the sun.

"UV rays penetrate through the clouds and can cause sun damage and premature aging,” warns Dr. Hendi. “Sun protective clothing is a good way to protect yourself without having to put on sunscreen on the covered areas."

4. MYTH: You don't need sun protection for your body because you are wearing clothing.

FACT: That cotton or linen tank top you’re wearing likely has an SPF 5 rating.

Scroll to Continue

From the Organic Authority Files

How many times do we step out and only apply sunscreen to “exposed” areas? Guilty! Fortunately, there are ways to combat this. "To protect yourself, consider wearing sun protective fabrics. There are fashionable options such as those offered by Luminora which provide UPF 50 plus," suggests Dr. Hendi. Not only that, but the fashion-forward UPF clothing has been designed with travel in mind and never loses its efficacy, unlike counterparts treated with chemicals.

5. MYTH: Sun exposure next to a window or inside a car is not harmful.

FACT: UVA rays penetrate glass and cause damage to the skin.

Dr. Hendi educates us about this sun protection myth by offering some insight. "UV radiation from the sun consists of UVA and UVB. Glass typically blocks UVB rays, however the deeper penetrating UVA rays go through glass and can still cause damage to the skin. This is why truck drivers or those that drive extensively have significant sun damage and more skin cancers on the left side of the face and the left arm,” he reveals. Always apply sunscreen to your face when in the car, and consider protecting your arms with UPF clothing like that from Luminora.

6. MYTH: Children should play outdoors all day in the summer.

FACT: Daily sun exposure and sun exposure during play causes the most sun damage. Overexposure to sunlight before 18 years of age is most damaging to the skin.

“While research shows that children who play outside are more active and generally have a lower risk of childhood obesity, choose your outdoor times carefully or seek shade for outside play,” cautions Dr. Hendi. “UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent, and always apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB broad-spectrum protection every time your child goes outside.”

7. MYTH: The higher the SPF, the better the sun protection.

FACT: Believing the higher the number, the better the protection is one of the more common sunscreen myths, but higher SPF only offers marginally improved UV protection.

Dr. Hendi explains, “It’s easy to think that sunscreens with SPF 70 or 100 would provide better coverage. But a higher SPF may actually give you a false sense of protection, and you may stay out longer in the sun or forget to reapply sunscreen after getting out from the water, thus you may actually burn more.”

“What’s more important,” he notes, “is that your sunscreen is broad-spectrum, meaning that it blocks UVA and UVB [rays], and that you reapply every two to three hours as recommended or after the skin gets wet from water or sweating.”

Remember, you can’t be sun safe without taking a holistic approach. Protect yourself in a multitude of ways--from a baseline skin cancer eval from a board-certified dermatologist to using broad-spectrum sunscreen and natural UPF clothing, like Luminora, which blocks up to 98 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.

Related on Organic Authority
The 38 Best Expert-Approved Natural Sunscreens for 2018
The Sunscreen Ingredients You Want to Avoid (and How to Choose the Good Stuff)
DIY Homemade Natural and Safe Sunscreen

Shop Editors' Picks

Related Stories