Diving into the anti-sunscreen movement

Originally published at: Diving into the anti-sunscreen movement | Boing Boing


wow. so that explains the lobster skin guy i saw today sitting in a lawn chair on his driveway mansplanning over some video call about how human skin has had millions of years to adapt to the sun.

i slinked quietly by, hoping i wouldn’t be noticed. i figure you can never be too careful


I’ve long been anti-sunscreen b/c most I’ve tried have caused allergic and other unpleasant reactions.

So I wear long sleeves, turn up my collar, and wear a hat! I wore old white tuxedo shirts for our outdoor riding lessons. [Looks fantastic, too.]

I’ve had sun poisoning more’n once. I’m like FFFFFF white. I avoid the sun because it quite frankly wants to KILL me.


…I just sit in the shade


Just about 100% wrong on that claim:

UVB exposure is used as a therapy for some autoimmune conditions precisely because it suppresses some overactive inflammatory responses.


Like the old Billy Connolly joke about being Scottish, it takes him two weeks in the sun just to turn white.


Yeah I never use sunscreen. I don’t think I even have any in the house, and if I do, I’m sure it’s expired. I am not allergic to anything in any sunscreens that I am aware of, but I burn in literal minutes if I’m in bright, direct sunlight. I avoid the sun like a vampire.


There are some legitimate questions that haven’t been fully explored in the literature about how the overall morbidity of sun exposure compares to the overall morbidity of lack of sun exposure. For example, we know that a deficiency of vitamin D is correlated with all sorts of other health issues, but simply adding vitamin D to a diet doesn’t seem to address those health issues. The working hypothesis is that the vitamin D deficiency is actually a comorbidity of insufficient sun exposure, along with the other health effects, rather than the cause of the other health effects.

Here’s a relevant literature:

Lindqvist et al. (2014). Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality: results from the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. Journal of Internal Medicine 276.1. doi:10.1111/joim.12251


Sunlight exposure and fair skin are major determinants of human vitamin D production, but they are also risk factors for cutaneous malignant melanoma (MM). There is epidemiological evidence that all-cause mortality is related to low vitamin D levels.


The mortality rate amongst avoiders of sun exposure was approximately twofold higher compared with the highest sun exposure group, resulting in excess mortality with a population attributable risk of 3%.

The results of this study provide observational evidence that avoiding sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality. Following sun exposure advice that is very restrictive in countries with low solar intensity might in fact be harmful to women’s health.

Obviously there’s a level of sun exposure that is too much, and it’s dependent on a host of environmental and genetic factors, and sunscreen is a good thing. But the premise that unprotected sun exposure is an unqualified negative is questionable at best. What’s most likely is that there’s a sweet spot of sun exposure that balances the risk factors associated with UV exposure against the risk factors associated with lack of sun exposure.

(None of this is to give credence to TikTok conspiracy theories.)

(Also, IANAD.)


I invite them to consider the example of my father - who loved sitting in the sun - and was darker than his kids.

He had his nose cut off due to skin cancer. They rebuilt it nicely- but it wasn’t a fun process. And it metastasized later.

Have fun!


There’s got to be something about the effect of sun on mood too (says the Vancouverite). That said, I’ve had too many moles cut off to count.


I’ve been living the booney hat lifestyle for a few years now, and wear an SPF shirt at the beach. I’ve got some family history of cancers and my derm advocated for SPF treated clothes for years. Honestly I think those photos of truckers with one half of their face relatively youthful and the other half sagging off really stuck it for me.

For a long time it just never occured to me that you could just avoid excessive sun exposure despite the fact that I HATE sunburns and really don’t care for the feeling of aloe vera…Big Summer propaganda did a number on me.


One of my great grandads was a Highlander, strrraight off tha boot, laddie!
Another was a pale AF German bootlegger who ran a numbers racket in the back of his candy shop.

The Sun even hated my predecessors.

Waiting ten minutes in the sun for the bus to work in Suthun Coliforniyah burnt my arms and the tip of my little nosie. I could feel the prickling as I stood there. Started wearing long sleeved shirts like a sort of jacket which I took off once aboard.

Reading a book in nicely cool semi-darkness has always worked for me during the summer.

A neighbor took me to the park with her kids for an all day swim and fun excursion. I was like preschool age. Tiny. Despite my being FFFFFF, she thought nothing of letting me run around in the sun without any form of protection. Her own kids were already nicely tanned from going there every day, but I got sun poisoning and was physically ill for days. Before then, I beautifully tanned. After going thru that, I only burn. If I keep the burn constantly slathered in moisturizer it turns tan, but I’ve rarely been able to do that without help.

Big Summer Propaganda got a big middle finger from little Merely Gifted at a very early age.


Yeah, if we could stop quoting conspiracy theories online, even for journalistic purposes, lest they be inadvertently used as training material for AI, that’d be great.


Wow. There is a danger from AI I never thought about…that people would be afraid to criticize things lest the computers pick it up. I think it’s probably better to try to avoid trusting the AI then to desperately hope we can keep all its inputs clean, since we need to do the first anyway and the second seems a fool’s errand.


I’m not saying you shouldn’t criticize it. I’m saying you shouldn’t quote the lies verbatim.


Yeah, I immediately thought of my grandfather. He didn’t really enjoy the sun as a recreational activity, but he was a logger and thus outdoors most of his work life. The cancer that got him started out as his fifth, maybe sixth time with that diagnosis. (“Oh, that’s what the doctor said last time. I’m still fine. I’ll ignore this one too …”)



(Sunscreen and brimmed hats are why I look years younger than most of my peers.)


For Australians of a certain age, oblig:


There has been a long-standing effort to convince people that sun screen is bad for the environment, in particular damaging coral. Not much evidence or logic behind this, given the very small quantity of sunscreen relative to the size of oceans.

As for anti-Semitic conspiracies, unfortunately the country in the world with the second highest rate of skin cancer is Israel due to total lack of taking the issue seriously, unfortunately. Australia is #1 unfortunately.