The Truth about Sunscreen Hacks on TikTok

We all know that sunscreen is extraordinarily important, but unfortunately, many people on TikTok have not gotten the memo. Today, we’re going to review some bad TikTok trends, and we’re going to explain where people are going wrong. We’re also going to discuss what we can truly do to protect our skin from cancer, fine lines, wrinkling, collagen degradation, pigmentation, acne scars, actinic keratosis, and all of the other things that come with unprotected sun exposure. 

Myth 1: Stop using sunscreen. Why would you smear toxic, chemical sludge on your skin? Sunscreen is absorbed into the bloodstream.


Yes, certain actives within chemical sunscreens can be absorbed into the bloodstream when used plentifully. However, this is the case with many substances that are applied to our skin. Even, the things we eat absorb into our blood. Moreover, just because something absorbs into our blood doesn’t mean it’s harmful. In reality, using sunscreen directly protects us from harm. Some might think, “Well, how can the sun be bad for you? It feels amazing! Everybody loves the sunshine.” But while there is no denying sunshine and happiness, this correlation doesn’t mean overexposure to it is safe. Loving the sun is valid because we literally get a release of serotonin and dopamine from sunshine, and on top of that, we also get essential vitamin D. However, sunscreen does not prevent vitamin D intake nor does it lessen the experience of fun in the sun. 

Sunscreens are not considered toxic within medical literature. Sunscreen blocks UV light so the skin doesn’t burn. Also, broad-spectrum sunscreen prevents both UVA and UVB rays from penetrating and causing damage to our skin. Natural remedies do not have the potency to protect from UVB rays let alone UVA rays. While natural remedies can be helpful, modern medicine definitely has a place, namely SPF.

Myth 2: Natural, non-toxic alternative to sunscreen is argan oil, shea butter, or coconut oil.


Yes, some oils have an SPF value of 4-10, but our skin has an SPF rating too. More simply, this is not nearly enough. To be even more specific, SPF numbers aren’t a rating that conveys how much you’ll be protected from the sun. An SPF rating tells us how many minutes there are before we need to reapply it. So, if you’re using argan oil with an SPF rating of 10,  theoretically, you would have to slather argan oil on yourself every 10 minutes. Furthermore, oils are not broad spectrum, meaning they cannot protect us from visible light which causes fine lines and collagen degradation.  

Now, let’s backtrack a little bit. We previously spoke about how oil's SPF is theoretical. Why is that? Well, have you ever put oil on something and left it in the sun? Doing this cooks things, and that includes the skin.  Also, do not put it on sunburns because oils can trap heat. 

So, get a broad spectrum sunscreen, and don’t use argan oil. 

Myth 3: Apply sunscreens like a highlighter on the T-zone and under the eyes to get a natural contoured look.


Eli Withrow, before, during and after her sunscreen contouring TikTok.

Apply sunscreen liberally and all over your face because sun damage does not happen strategically. Just use self-tanner, tanning water, or actual highlighter. That literally gives you a contoured look without the risk of sun damage. 

Myth 4: You can make your own sunscreens. DIY sunscreens are just as good or even better.


Photocred: pronounce skincare

Do not try to make sunscreen unless you are a cosmetic chemist, a dermatologist working with a cosmetic chemist, or a certified formulator. Sunscreen is a drug that protects against cancer, and chemistry-wise, it’s one of the hardest skincare products to formulate. Firstly, physical sunscreen contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are powders. Have you ever tried to get a powder in liquid form? Well, the outcome is super pasty and chunky. A sunscreen formula must be stabilized and combined properly to truly shield the face. It needs to spread easily so it can be spread all over the face. They also need to last a long time (SPF).

Secondly, the efficacy (effectiveness) of DIY sunscreen does not go through testing, which is essential to formulating a successful sunscreen. Testing is done by applying sunscreen, shining UV light on the skin, and seeing how long it takes for the skin to develop erythema (redness). Thus, any amount of tan or burn is skin damage from UVB. While yes, you can use oil to get a glow, you cannot use oil to get protected from the sun. Plus, while your skin may seem okay after using oil in the sun, sun damage builds up over time, and the best thing you can do is wear sun-protective clothing, use hats, stay in the shade, and wear sunscreen. 

Myth 5: Essential Oils Treat sunburns

Photocred: Essential oil

Although some essential oils can have anti-inflammatory effects, they can also cause irritation when used alone or not put into a formula carefully and stabilized. Moreover, it’s important that we specify which essential oils. For example. citrus oils can interact badly with sun exposure and cause blisters and bubbles.

So, to be safe please use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and practice healthy habits!