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The Unfortunate Reality of Sunscreen Shaming

by kelly / July, 15 2015 01:30

Yes sunscreen shaming is actually a thing that happens today and it's unfortunate. The whole idea of shaming - be it for shape, size, color or something else - is sad. With the growth of social media it's only made shaming more prevalent.  Now we can add sunscreen to the list. I didn't think it was real until I saw an entire Reddit forum around it. Additionally, Allure did a recent article on this very subject.


First off let me state the difficult fact that skin cancer is on the rise and one in five Americans will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. UV rays from the sun and/or tanning salons are a leading cause of skin cancer. Fortunately there are easy ways to prevent skin cancer and one way is definitely by wearing sunscreen.


Now you might think I'm biased but many reputable organizations such as the American Academy of Dermatology, the Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society recommend wearing sunscreen (in addition to other sun protection measures) to prevent skin cancer and skin damage. Additionally, the US Food and Drug Administration allows sunscreen companies to put the following statement on their labels (and it's included on our sunscreen bottles as well) if the sunscreen is SPF 15 or higher and broad spectrum:

"If used as directed with other sun protection measures (see Directions), decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun."

There are clear benefits to wearing sunscreen.


So why and what are people being sunscreen shamed for? Allure provided a few examples which we here at Block Island Organics have also experienced or seen:

  1. A generational thing - I'll be honest, when I was kid I spent many a summer day playing tennis out in the sun and don't remember wearing sunscreen. I'll age myself and say I was born in the 70s so that will give you a sense of which decades I spent my formative years in. Now I wish I had worn sunblock all those years because the effects of sun damage are cumulative! Some of my friends that also grew up during that time say their parents still question why they wear sunscreen daily and apply it onto their kids. Many believe a tan makes you look healthy but that couldn't be further from the truth. A tan is a sign of skin damage.
  2. Looking pale - my husband (and co-founder of Block Island Organics) is very very pale.  He also makes it a point to wear sunscreen everyday. Combine the two and often our friends make fun of his "ghostly" complexion. In his defense, I will say he looks 5-10 years younger than people the same age Laughing!
  3. Chemicals in sunscreen are bad - Yes we have heard this one many a times as a suncare company and there are studies showing concerns with chemical UV filters. But there are alternatives to chemical UV filters like mineral based sunscreens that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as their UV filters.  For example our sunscreens are mineral based, non-toxic and and made with natural and organic ingredients!


I'd love to stop the exercise of sunscreen shaming and shaming in general but I know that's next to impossible.  I just hope that with a little bit of our suncare smarts people will understand the importance of sun protection and think twice before shaming.

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