Sun safety and sunscreen are topics that make me go bananas. I’m not only a huge advocate for sun safety, product safety, and sunscreen, but I lose my mind when people tell me they make their own sunscreen or they think that sunscreen will give them cancer.
I don’t even know if I can go on because I’ve lost my mind just thinking about how ridiculous it is that I have to write my second blog post about this (first one is through Naked Kitty Naturals).
To get you up to speed, I’ve created a list of some big lies you’ll hear about sunscreen and sun safety that I’ve heard a myriad times. And remember kids, just because something is natural DOESN’T MAKE IT SAFE! Repeat after me until that shit sinks in.
I’ll post all of my sources at the end of this post and jump right into the myths now:
The Ridiculous Myths:
Myth #1: You don’t need to wear sunscreen when it’s overcast outside
You need to wear sunscreen on exposed skin (I’m not talking about the wintertime when you’re indoors) anytime you’re going to be near a sunny window, driving in your car, etc. Do you want to see a picture of what happens when you don’t wear sunscreen and you drive a car? I don’t care what you think, here it is:
Solution: cover up and apply sunscreen to your uncovered parts 365 days a year. Even if it’s overcast out. Unless you’re not leaving your windowless basement or your house doesn’t get a ton of direct sunlight, just incorporate it into your skincare routine.
Myth #2: Sunscreen Gives you Skin Cancer
The sun gives you skin cancer, not sunscreen. Stay out of the sun! Stay far away from tanning beds! Unless you want lizard skin when you’re 40. There are a myriad sources that determine that no, sunscreen won’t give you skin cancer. The active ingredients in sunscreen are made to keep the sun out. There is, however, the tendency for people that wear sunscreen to feel they’re better protected and as a result, spend more time in the sun (not so smart).
ALSO, if you think sunscreen will give you cancer because your skin “eats” what you put on it, it won’t: skin is incredibly complicated and you don’t actually absorb every particle you put on it. The active ingredients in sunscreen typically sit overtop of your skin to keep the sun out, the lotion is just the medium for it to spread it onto your skin.
Using an SPF of 15 minimum on the daily reduces your risk of melanoma by 50%. If you’ve had sunburn more than 5 times in your life, your risk for melanoma doubles.
Melanoma also doesn’t show up overnight. It’s also the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
You know what a tan is? Visible sun damage. *Mic drop*
Solution: Wear your goddamn sunscreen. And not that spray crap, the actual lotion in a bottle. You’ll get better coverage.
Myth #3: Zinc Oxide / diaper rash cream gives you better sun protection
No it won’t. It’s been tested as diaper rash cream, not as sunscreen. You don’t know what the SPF is, neither do the cosmetic chemists that made the diaper rash cream, and there are actually very strict regulations for how much of each sun blocking agent a sunscreen is allowed to have in a formulation (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, etc.). Also, getting diaper rash cream off of your skin afterward sucks. You’ll be in the shower for a while.
Solution: Buy drugstore brand sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage. You can always opt for the sensitive skin version. I personally like Coppertone’s Sensitive Skin Formula.
Myth #4 (my favourite; this makes me want to rip out my eyeballs from eye rolling): You / other natural makers can make sunscreen at home.
You could, but you really shouldn’t. In fact, I don’t think I want to even reason with you if you do. It’s incredibly unsafe for a few of the following reasons:
- You can’t test the SPF unless you’re a serious business cosmetic chemist or have the facilities to test things out…which you probably don’t. There aren’t a ton of labs that do this work, and they charge big money to do it.
- Health Canada doesn’t want you or other natural/handmade cosmetic makers making sunscreen at home because sun safety is serious business. Sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug; I think we can all agree that OTC drugs need regulation.
- There are a lot of rules about how to make sunscreen and how much of each sun blocking ingredient you can have (linked in this post). So for instance, you can’t make a formula with 50% zinc oxide, because there’s a cap for how much zinc oxide you can have in a formula.
- You also won’t know the SPF of your formula or how well protected you’d be against the sun; it’s not as simple as knowing what percent of what is in your formula and calculating it that way. You have to send your formula to a lab and pay a lot of money to have it tested correctly.
- You’re better off looking to the drugstore for sunscreen. I personally like Shiseido’s Urban Environment sunscreen for my face, and I’ll use anything else on my body.
Myth #5 (probably the most dangerous one; it’s also buddies with #4): But _____ oils have a natural SPF!
Nooooooooo they don’t. Natural sunscreen doesn’t really exist…you need sun blocking agents like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or avobenzone, otherwise, you’re just rubbing oils on yourself and you’ll cook your skin like a turkey. Also sun damage = melanoma = bad bad bad.
Solution: Wear. Sunscreen. From. The. Drugstore.
In conclusion, “Natural sunscreens” or “mineral sunscreens” from natural brands are not necessarily better for you than drugstore sunscreens. You should look for the DIN number on a sunscreen; it means that the product has been rigorously tested and passed to sit on that shelf and get to your house. Drugstore sunscreens are safer. And even though I make natural products, I always choose safety over natural. I’ll say it again: “natural” does not mean it’s safe.
Fun fact: People living in northern countries closer to the arctic circle statistically have a bigger likelihood of getting melanoma; there is one middle eastern country on the list, and it’s Israel at #20 (makes sense; Israel is very culturally diverse and people are wearing fewer clothes than most other middle eastern countries).
Links for sources are below! I apologize for not citing them, but hopefully you guys trust me enough. I may go back later and cite them correctly 😉
Last year’s blog post on sun safety: https://www.nakedkittynaturals.com/blogs/nkn-blog/lets-talk-about-sun-safety-baby
A lot of myths on sunscreen: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/no-sunscreen-will-not-give-you-cancer/
Sun Safety and the Ozone Layer https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/weather-health/uv-index-sun-safety/ozone-layer.html
Skin Cancer Prevention: https://www.skincancer.org/Media/Default/File/File/prevention-guidelines-handout.pdf
World Cancer Research on Melanoma: https://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-cancer-frequency-country
Active ingredients in sunscreen and how they work: https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/sun-care/active-ingredients-in-sunscreen.htm
Sunscreen manufacturing guidelines, Health Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/public-involvement-consultations/natural-health-products/draft-guidance-document-sunscreen-monograph-consultation-document.html
Soko Glam Sunscreen Guide + sunscreens: https://sokoglam.com/pages/sunscreen-guide
Does Sunscreen Cause Cancer: https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/does-sunscreen-cause-cancer
What are the active ingredients in sunscreen?: https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/sun-care/active-ingredients-in-sunscreen.htm
Why you should not make homemade sunscreen: https://formulabotanica.com/not-make-homemade-sunscreen/