The truth behind 10 sunscreen myths


This article was originally published in the Early Summer 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

We’ve looked into 10 commonly held beliefs about sunscreen lotion and figured out what’s fact—and what’s fiction.

UV rays can penetrate clothing

FACT. It’s mostly a problem if you’re fond of sheer blouses. Clothing made of loosely-woven, lightweight materials offers the least protection.

Sun reflects off sand and water

FACT. It also reflects off snow and concrete, by the way.

Shade will save you from the sun

MYTH. SORT OF. Shade, under an umbrella, for example, only cuts UV exposure by about 50 percent. But it’s much better than nothing.

Double the SPF, double the skin protection!

FOR THE THOUSANDTH TIME, MYTH! A higher SPF blocks more of the sun’s UVB rays. An SPF of 45 blocks about 98 percent. No product blocks 100 percent.

The sun is stronger in tropical countries.

FACT. The closer you get to the equator, the more UV you’re exposed to.

Tanning in a bed is better than tanning in the sun.

MYTH. Tanning beds still emit UV rays. (Fictional people also get trapped in them, and die hideously, in horror movies and in episodes of CSI: Miami. Just saying.)

The UV rays are getting stronger.

FACT. PROBABLY. There is research that says the ever-depleting ozone layer doesn’t stop as many of the sun’s rays as it used to, but the overall impact on the amount of UV radiation is still unclear.

A UV Index of more than 11? Bonkers-impossible!

MYTH. We rarely hit more than 11 on the UV Index here in Canada, but it can reach higher than 14 in tropical countries and parts of the southern U.S.

But I needs me my vitamin D! Without lots of UV exposure, I won’t get it.

MYTH. For some adults, even a mere six minutes of sunlight is enough to allow the body to produce the necessary vitamin D.

Some people are allergic to the sun.

FACT. Duh. They’re called “vampires.” But also, the sun can trigger immune system reactions, such as hives, in folks who are photosensitive.