1O Myths about sunscreen what you need to know

The shelves are full of 100 different types of sun creams. It is understandable that many people can no longer see the wood for the trees. In addition, there are also many misconceptions about sunscreen and misleading commercial slogans.

The purpose of this blog is to discuss and dispel these misleading slogans and myths about sunburn. So that everyone can make the right choice in sunscreen.


Myths in a row: no 1.

All sunscreens provide adequate protection.

– Fact.

Sunscreens distinguish between UVA and UVB. SPF everyone knows and is described on all sunscreens. However, SPF only indicates that it blocks UVB radiation. Not only UVB is harmful to the skin but so is UVA. UVA penetrates even deeper into the skin and plays a major role in skin aging. It is therefore extremely important that sunscreens protect against both rays.

Myth 2.

The higher the SPF the better.


The pitfall for many people is that when they use a higher factor they feel that they need to apply less. When only half the recommended amount is applied, the SPF also drops. A study has shown that in practice people smear about 0.5mg.cm2. That is 1.5 mg/cm2 too little, so that SPF30, for example, drops to SPF9. This means that the skin is inadequately protected. In addition, the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is minimal. SPF 30 blocks 97% of sunlight and SPF 50 blocks 98% of sunlight.

It is therefore very important that the correct amount of cream is applied, whether it is SPF 30 or SPF 100.

Myth 3.

Vitamin A is used in face creams, so it should also be good in sunscreens.

– Fact.

Vitamin A is an antioxidant, what an antioxidant is and does you can read in one of my earlier blogs about niacinamideand Q10.

Where people first thought that vitamin A slows down the aging process through its cell renewal effect and stimulation of collagen fibers in the dermis, it is now advised to avoid vitamin A cream during the day. And research from the US government showed in an experimental study that the combination of sunlight and retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) accelerates the process of skin tumors. However, more scientific research is needed to determine this.

Prevention is better than cure is our advice

Myth 4.

Sunburn causes a vitamin D deficiency.

– Fact

Protecting your skin from the sun is important for everyone.

The concern that too little vitamin D is produced through sunscreen is not misplaced. However, if we look in practice, there is no reason to panic. When you walk outside in the sun unprotected for 15 minutes, you already get enough sunlight for sufficient vitamin D production. In addition, some UVB rays pass through the sun protection or enter through unprotected areas. Thus, they end up on the epidermis where vitamin D is formed. For example, skiers on vacation showed that when they exposed only 4% of their skin, they still had a sufficient increase in 25(OH)D, the inactive form of vitamin D.

Myth 5.

Sunscreen inside is totally unnecessary.


This depends on the routine you follow. One good example is the famous photo of the male truck driver (if you don’t know him, look up the photo). Truck drivers spend hours/days at a time in the truck. This photo clearly shows that UVA definitely does get through glass. The man has significantly more skin aging on the left side of his face compared to the right side.

So if you often sit near a window, apply sunscreen inside as well. Especially with sunscreen that offers UVA protection.

Myth 6.

Myths About Sunscreen

Dark-skinned people do not need to apply sunscreen.

– Fact

There is indeed a distinction between different skin types. KWF advise

Skin type 1: Very light skin, hardly tan and burn very quickly. Recommended SPF 25-SPF 30.

Skin type 2: Light skin, burns quickly but also tans slowly. Recommended SPF 15-25.

Skin type 3: light skin, does not burn quickly and tans easily. Recommended SPF 10-15.

Skin type 4: tinted skin, tans quickly and hardly ever burns. Recommended SPF 10-15.

Dark-skinned people have more melanin (pigment) in their skin. This melanin can provide protection against UVB radiation to a certain extent. However, UVA damage is not blocked in the same way and can therefore certainly lead to premature skin aging. A study by Dawes (2016) also shows that the chance of survival from skin cancer is smaller among people of color than among white people. This is because the skin cancer is not discovered until later in its stage.

We can therefore say that sunscreen is also necessary for dark skins, in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer and skin aging.

Myth 7.

Sunscreen is waterproof.


No None of the products retain full effectiveness after a dip in the sea. That is why this claim can no longer be used on sunscreen products. It is misleading and it cannot keep its word. So it is important that you always reapply sunscreen after swimming.

Today, water resistant is becoming the replacement term for it. Products that are water resistant often use certain oils that make the product more resistant to water or sweat. This is of course always useful, but it also brings disadvantages. It increases the chance of pimples and it can be experienced as unpleasant. Nobody wants a sticky sunscreen.

Myth 8.

As long as I don’t burn, I’m fine.

– Fact

Tanned skin due to excessive UV radiation (sun) is DNA damaged skin, which wrinkles faster and ages. In this case, your skin is compared to an elastic band that lays in the sun. After a few hours, the rubber band is considerably less elastic and will even crumble after a few days. This is also what the sun does to the skin and you naturally want to prevent that.

In addition, the figures do not lie and show that skin cancer is on the rise. Every year, approximately 55,000 Dutch people are diagnosed with skin cancer. That is 21,000 more than 10 years ago. In addition, the age that people develop skin cancer is getting lower, despite the fact that people are becoming increasingly aware of the damage of the sun.

Myth 9.

Using the sunbed before vacation provides sun protection.

– Fact.

Exposing the body to high levels of UVA light from a tanning bed creates a temporary tan that will do very little to protect the skin from sun exposure and sunburn caused by UVB light.

Myth 10.

Day cream with SPF provides sufficient protection.

– Fact

Day cream with SPF protection is certainly not wrong. However, there are also some drawbacks. When you go into the sun, you should reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours for the right protection. Nobody is going to do this with their day cream of 40-50 euros. In addition, most day creams only offer protection against UVB. While UVA comprises the majority of UV radiation throughout the year. UVA also penetrates deeper into the skin and not only causes premature skin aging, but an accumulation of UVA rays in the skin also weakens the skin’s immune system. Daily UVA protection is therefore very important.

So if you want to go into the sun responsibly, make sure you use a good sunscreen every 2 hours with natural mineral ingredients that offer protection against UVA and UVB.

Did you know that Francis Wu wrote a very nice and interesting piece about baldness in women due to sunscreen filters? This piece can be found on Iconopedia.

His research is about the fact that the substances in synthetic filters clog the hair follicles, with all the consequences that entails.



Dawes, S. M., Tsai, S., Gittleman, H., Barnholtz-Sloan, J. S., & Bordeaux, J. S. (2016). Racial disparities in melanoma survival. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 75(5), 983-991.

De Gruijl, F. R. (2002). Photocarcinogenesis: UVA vs. UVB radiation. Skin pharmacology and physiology, 15(5), 316-320.

Moyal, D. (2012). Need for a well-balanced sunscreen to protect human skin from both Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B damage. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 78(7), 24.

https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/lt_rpts/tr568_508.pdf PHOTOCOCARCINOGENESIS STUDY OF RETINOIC ACID AND RETINYL PALMITATE

Sorg O, Saurat JH. Topical retinoids in skin ageing: a focused update with reference to sun-induced epidermal vitamin A deficiency. Dermatology. 2014;228(4):314-325.

Ou-Yang, H., Stanfield, J., Cole, C., Appa, Y., Rigel, D. (2012) High-SPF sunscreens (SPF 70) may provide ultraviolet protection above minimal recommended levels by adequately compensating for lower sunscreen user application amounts. Journal of the American Academy of dermatology. 67(6), 1220-1227.

Prutkin, L. (1973). Antitumor activity of vitamin A acid and fluorouracil used in combination on the skin tumor, keratoacanthoma. Cancer research, 33(1), 128-133.

Tuchinda, C., Srivannaboon, S., & Lim, H. W. (2006). Photoprotection by window glass, automobile glass, and sunglasses. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 54(5), 845-854.

Wulf, C., H., Philipsen, A., P., (2020) Improving photoprotection and implications for 25(OH)D formation. Anticancer Research, 40:511-518.

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Dionne Smits

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