The 7 most common sunscreen myths and mistakes.

Sunscreen myths covered in 7 points. Go.


Imagine this summertime scenario: you arrive early at the beach for a day of fun in the sun. Your (fictional) three-year-old is wearing a hat, rashie, sunglasses and you’ve also slathered sunscreen on to every exposed part of his body, twice.

You lay out your towel out with the intention of getting some ‘Vitamin D’ before slip, slop, slapping yourself and hope that little Sammy will be content building sandcastles under the umbrella to give you enough time to relax. You fish through your bag and dammit, in the rush to leave the house it looks like you’ve forgotten your hat. So there you are lying in the full sun without sunscreen or a hat while your three-year old has three layers of SPF protection to play in the shade.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Ultraceuticals. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Why is it that we so steadfastly apply sunscreen to our children while we are more nonchalant about our own skin?

It’s been 32 years since Sid Seagull introduced the Slip Slop Slop campaign and the tanned look is no longer being touted as ‘healthy’ but record numbers of Australians are developing melanoma and dying from skin cancer than ever before.

According to the Cancer Council, Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. More than 1700 Australians die from skin cancer each year and 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.

Two in three. That’s more than 65% of the population. Read on for some of the common sunscreen myths, excuses and mistakes people make about sunscreen.

Research has shown that a few minutes of sun per day is all you need to top up your Vitamin D levels.

1. I don’t need sunscreen for my daily dose of Vitamin D.

Are you using Vitamin D as an excuse to not apply sunscreen daily? Research has shown that a few minutes of sun per day is all you need to top up your Vitamin D levels. Tests indicate that sunscreen use (SPF 30 or higher) during the sun protection times should not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

“When sunscreen is tested in laboratory conditions it is shown to block vitamin D production, however regular use in real life has been shown to have little effect on vitamin D levels,” reports the Cancer Council.

2. I’ve heard the chemicals in sunscreen are just as bad as sun exposure.

According to the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing there is no clear evidence that sunscreens containing chemical ingredients pose any risk to health. However, if this does concern you there are more natural, paraben-free and low chemical sunscreens available.

The sun’s rays can still harm you even when it’s cold or overcast.

3. It’s not hot today so I don’t need it.

You’ve probably got the memo that it’s best to stay out of the sun between the hours of 10am to 3pm, which is the hottest time of the day but it’s UV levels you should be thinking about not heat.

The sun’s UV is the major cause of skin cancer, and it can’t be seen or felt, it’s doesn’t correlate with the temperature and Australia has some of the highest levels in the world.

Scarily enough, your skin remembers and records all the UV exposure you have ever received – the sunburn you received as a kid, last summer’s tan, that time you went to a solarium and day-to-day when you either forgot or couldn’t be bothered using sun protection. It all adds up and increases your long-term risk of skin cancer.

What can you do? Listen to the weather broadcast for mention of UV levels, check the Bureau of Meterology website or click on the SunSmart UV Alert.

4. I’d use sunscreen but it stuffs up my makeup.

When did having burnt and peeling shoulders ever make you feel awesome?

As the Cancer Council of Australia put it, foundation doesn’t come in ‘Lobster Red.’ Sunscreen is best applied to clean, dry skin so use it as a moisturiser and primer under your makeup. Throw a SPF tinted moisturiser in your handbag for touch-ups during the day.

5. I feel better in summer when I’m tanned rather than pale and pasty.

Ever heard of fake tan? There are plenty of organic and non-stinky versions on the market so that’s no excuse.

6. It’s greasy, too white and I hate getting sand stuck to me.

Sunscreen has developed way beyond the coloured zinc you slathered across your nose as a kid. If you haven’t found one you like yet, look for non-greasy and touch-dry formulations that also won’t have you breaking out.

7. Broad spectrum, UVA, UVB, 30+, 50+ it’s all so complicated.

It is, but you can’t stick your head in the sand about it.

There are three types of UV radiation, categorised by wavelength: UVA, UVB and UVC.

  • UVA can cause sunburn, DNA (cell) damage in the skin and skin cancer.
  • UVB causes skin damage and skin cancer. Ozone stops most UVB from reaching the earth’s surface.
  • UVC is the most dangerous type of UV. Ozone in the atmosphere absorbs all UVC so none reaches the earth’s surface.
A high UV protection with Complete Spectrum UVA & UVB coverage sunscreen is all you need.

Takeaway points:

Broad spectrum sunscreens are designed to protect against UVA and UVB rays.

  • A sunscreen that doesn’t mention ‘broad spectrum’ and only has a SPF rating may block very little UVA rays.
  • UVA radiation – relative to what SPF rating it has (SPF4, SPF15 etc). Which is why you might have been sunburned even though you applied sunscreen.
  • The latest development in sunscreens are one that contain ‘complete spectrum’ sunscreens. The ingredients in these new sunscreens absorb UV rays across the entire spectrum of UVA and UVB, giving you the most protection possible.

When Science Meets Suncare…

Ultraceuticals SunActive SPF 50+ range features complete spectrum UVA•UVB sunscreens to provide the highest UV protection* with 4 hours water resistance. Contains a powerful antioxidant complex for environmental protection and touch-dry technology for a shine-free velvet finish. Free of synthetic fragrances, parabens and benzophenone.

 Developed for all skin types SunActive SPF 50+ can used on adults and children alike.

*AS/NZS 2604:2012 ‘very high’.