Dropping Truth Bombs: 10 Common Sunscreen Myths You Should Never Believe 

Because myths are nothing but misinformation

Let’s say it out loud – we all need sunscreen. SPF is BFF!

But we also know that there is a lot of misinformation floating around freely when it comes to truthful facts and myths about sunscreen.

Sunscreen triggers skin problems – You won’t get enough vitamin D if you wear sunscreen regularly – You don’t need sunscreen when you’re indoors. The list goes on…

When it comes to sunscreens, it can be a downright challenge to find out what works and what doesn’t. Today, we’re going to debunk the 10 most common myths about sunscreens.

Sunscreen myth #1: Sunscreen protects from UV A and UV B rays.

sunscreen and sun protection
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

Most sunscreens don’t give you complete protection against UV radiation. Surprise, surprise! 

There are three types of sun rays: Sun rays basically comprise of UV A, UV B, and UV C rays.  

Our good friend, the ozone layer protects us from UV C, but UV exposure to the other two can cause wrinkles, freckles, erythema, premature aging, and even a risk of skin cancer. So, apart from religiously applying sunscreen, you must check if you are protected against all things that good sunshine is throwing at you!

The ozone layer is depleting due to global warming, so the exposure to UV rays is much stronger now. You need to be more cautious to lower your risk of skin cancer. 

Related Article: What’s The Deal With Sunscreen? How To Find A Good Reef-Safe Option? 

Look out for labels such as “broad spectrum” for combined protection from UV A and UV B rays. Sunscreens from Asian brands use the plus sign (+) next to the PA letters to indicate more coverage.

Or look out for UV A filters in the ingredients list – zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl, and Tinosorb. You must reapply sunscreens every 2-3 hours if exposed to sunlight.  

And even though you’re all lathered up with SPF, do cover up using a hat and sunglasses, and wear an SPF lip balm (your lips don’t have melanin to save you from the sun) for extra care. You should also avoid long sun exposure, especially during peak hours (10 AM to 2 PM). 

Sunscreen myth #2: You don’t need to wear sunscreen indoors or on cloudy days.

sunscreen is essential when indoors
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

How about we put it this way – If you have skin, you need sunscreen, no matter the day!  

Most of us think that if the sunlight cannot reach us directly, UV exposure won’t affect us either. However, unlike sunlight, UV rays (especially, UV A) rays can penetrate through clouds, glass windows, etc. 

If you’re sitting near windows or in front of a computer screen — you’re exposing yourself to potentially skin-damaging light. 

Sunscreen myth #3: Waterproof sunscreens are a thing.

waterproof sunscreens are a myth
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

Sunscreen cannot be waterproof. Now obviously, you would want sunscreen that gives you all the sun protection you want, while you swim or sweat.

The real deal is that sunscreens can only be labeled as ‘water-resistant’ or ‘sweat-resistant’. In fact, the FDA only allows claims of water resistance for 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

Water-resistant sunscreens use chemical filters that can damage skin-barrier or cause allergies. So, when opting for water-resistant or sweat-resistant sunscreens, look out for natural alternatives without harsh chemicals that are also coral and reef-safe.  

Related Article: Our Good Guide To Read Sunscreen Labels – 5 Toxic Ingredients You Should Avoid  

Sunscreen myth #4: You don’t need sunscreen when you’re applying makeup.

sunscreen and makeup
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

It’s great that you invest in makeup products with SPF; but hey, hey! it’s still better not to skip sunscreen as a whole step in your skincare routine. 

Now, hybrid skincare or makeup might be in, but having a little SPF in your product won’t really do the job of a well-formulated sunscreen.  

For adequate sun protection, you should apply at least 2 milligrams per square centimeter of your skin (i.e., half a teaspoon on your face and neck).

Sunscreen myth #5: Layering multiple products with SPF increases sun protection.

spf and sunscreens
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

Umm, sorry, but that math doesn’t apply to skincare dimensions! SPF doesn’t work this way. No matter the number of products with SPF you use, you cannot ‘add up’ the SPF.

You will only get the protection of the highest SPF number; the only benefit that you get from layering different SPF is the amount of product on your skin. 

Adding SPF does not work because the amount of active ingredients doesn’t change in the product.

Sunscreen myth #6: All sunscreens are created alike.

sunscreen myths - all sunscreens are the same
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

Depending on what your skin needs, different sunscreens will provide different benefits. Beauty stores usually offer mineral and chemical sunscreens, based on the kind of UV filters they have. 

Mineral sunscreens have physical blockers like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that create a protective layer on top of our skin to reflect UV rays.  

Chemical sunscreens have chemical blockers, like avobenzone and homosalate, that get absorbed into the skin and turn UV rays into heat. While they work wonders to keep you safe from sun damage, harmful chemicals from these sunscreens have been impacting marine life, coral reefs, and, well, the entire planet.

Thank God it’s 2023! Depending on what works best for you, there are plenty of sustainable alternatives to mineral and chemical sunscreens, which are reef-safe, ocean-safe, and even you-safe to choose from.  

Related Articles: Are Mineral Sunscreens Actually Better Than Chemical Sunscreens? 

Sunscreen myth #7: People with darker skin don’t need sunscreen.

sunscreens is must for dark colored skin
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

If you have skin, and you’re alive, you do need sunscreen! People with olive or pigmented skin may relatively be more protected from sun damage, but darker skin tones are still prone to sun damage and do need sunscreen.

Sunscreen is a must for anyone and everyone!

Sunscreen myth #8: Sunscreen prevents tanning.

sunscreen prevents tanning
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Tanning is nothing but the stress response (production of melanin) that your skin has when it encounters UV radiation.

While sunscreens will protect you from sun damage, no sunscreen can give you 100% protection from the sun’s UV radiation. So, even while you have the SPF on, UV rays can still reach your skin and cause a tan.

There are plenty of healthier alternatives to get a tan – opt for sunless tanning methods. Our top picks by sustainable brands include: 

It is best not to risk your health with exposure to UV rays on tanning beds – indoors or outdoors. 

Related Article: Can Sunscreen Prevent Tanning? What Is Sunless Tanning? 

Sunscreen myth #9: Wearing sunscreen every day will cause Vitamin D deficiency.

sunscreen and vitamin D levels
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

This one’s our favorite! Nope, sunscreens cannot make you deficient in Vitamin D.  

Reason – Sunscreens work by blocking UV B rays, which are known to trigger Vitamin D production, there is still no valid evidence that suggests wearing sunscreen causes vitamin D deficiency.

To get your daily dose of Vitamin D, you should aim for around 15 minutes of sunshine a couple of times a week in order to effectively reap the benefits of Vitamin D.

Sunscreen myth #10: Sunscreen triggers allergies, breakouts, and skin irritation.

sunscreen causes skin concerns
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

The whole truth

This is true for people with sensitive or damaged skin. However, the real culprit here is not the sunscreen but the harsh chemical ingredients (like synthetic fragrances, and chemical UV filters) or ingredients that your skin must be allergic to.  

This doesn’t mean you should skip using sunscreen altogether. Instead, opt for mineral sunscreens that do not clog pores (noncomedogenic), are fragrance-free and certified reef-friendly, to stay kind to both your body and the planet.  

Here are our go-to mineral sunscreens to get the best sun protection: 


Let’s sum up the key takeaways before you go out (after applying sunscreen, we hope)! 

☀️ Sunscreen is a must, indoors and outdoors, irrespective of your skin type, color, or the weather. 
☀️ Sunscreen does not make you Vitamin D deficient. 
☀️ Mineral sunscreen is the best choice for sensitive skin. 
☀️ Sunscreen does not prevent tanning. 
☀️ Makeup alone cannot shield you from UV radiation. 
☀️ Choose broad-spectrum sunscreens with SPF (at least SPF 15) for protection from exposure to UV A & B rays. 

Oh, and yes! We love the oceans, and we’re sure you do too. So, it’s always best to choose reef-safe sunscreens – What Makes Sunscreens Eco-friendly? How To Find The Most Ocean-Friendly SPF? 

reminder to apply and reapply sunscreen
Goodguilt / Canva Pro

Frequently asked questions

1. Is it safe to use sunscreen every day? 

It is absolutely safe to use sunscreen every day. In fact, it is advised to reapply sunscreen every 3 to 5 hours for best results.

2. Does sunscreen actually make a difference? 

Yes, sunscreen makes a huge difference by helping you get adequate protection from UV rays. It shields your skin from sun damage and lowers the risk of skin cancer. 

3. Is there a downside to using sunscreen? 

Honestly, there is no downside to using sunscreen. However, there have been certain concerns related to skin problems like acne, irritation, and allergies in the past. But, if you make an informed choice about the ingredients in your sunscreen, you have nothing to worry about. 

We hope you love the products we recommend! All products featured on GoodGuilt are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn a commission on the sale. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication.

Subscribe to our newsletter

To receive updates on all things good and guilt-free!