Wellness TikTokers spread conspiracy theory that sunscreen is bad for you

By Charlie Sawyer

Updated Jul 2, 2024 at 03:26 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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If anyone needed reminding, sun tan lotion (or sunscreen, sunblock, whatever you like to call it) is apparently totally out in 2024. Yeah, I’m not kidding. There’s officially a misinformation movement on TikTok encouraging users to ditch the sun tan lotion and face those rays head-on. Why? No one is really sure, to be honest, but I’m going to try and break it down for you the best that I can.

Currently on TikTok, the term ‘anti sunblock’ has amassed an insane 7.1 million associated posts and, even more shockingly, during the month of May, data obtained by Glam revealed that Google searches for “Does sunscreen cause cancer” and “What causes cancer in sunscreen” have risen by 160 per cent and 70 per cent respectively. 

While some creators have begun sharing their personal experiences of not wearing sunscreen, a topic that already should set off alarm bells, others have even gone as far as to suggest that sun tan lotion itself can cause diseases and types of cancer—a thread of misinformation that is now plaguing TikTok.

@shannonfairweatherr

Replying to @aliyah avoid sunscreen & sunburns 👏🏼 #antisunscreen #naturalliving #fyp

♬ original sound - Shannon Fairweather
@primalphysique

Replying to @Ah Jun435 nope i don’t use sunscreen and here’s why 😉 #harmfulchemicals #chemicalfreeskincare #naturalskincaretip #naturallivingideas #naturalalltheway

♬ original sound - Jerome | Transformation Coach

One particular influencer who seems to be leading the anti-sun tan lotion charge is Gubba Homestead, a wellness and natural skincare creator who has recently turned her social media platforms into a hub for commentary that warns of toxic ingredients lurking in sunscreen bottles.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Gubba Homestead (@gubbahomestead)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Gubba Homestead (@gubbahomestead)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Gubba Homestead (@gubbahomestead)

Homestead has an incredibly large and engaged fanbase, with 1.3 million followers on Instagram and regular videos that reach audiences of over 500,000 people. The whole ‘X is a scam’ spiel is kind of her speciality.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Gubba Homestead (@gubbahomestead)

In one of Homestead’s specific pieces of content on this topic, she captioned the video: “I don’t wear sunscreen, and I never will. We blame the sun for cancer when we should be blaming our diets. But if we cleaned up our diets, how would Big Food and Big Pharma make their money? Sunscreen and a poor diet will make you sick. Sick people = $$$. Don’t be a pawn.”

Is sunscreen bad for you?

Now, I think it’s only right that we do our own research as some people seem so incredibly set on spreading the message that sun tan lotion is truly bad for you. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently confirmed that the science does not indicate that any sunscreen ingredients currently available in the US are harmful to human health.

Moreover, melanoma skin cancer is primarily caused by overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) light and Cancer Research UK has stated that there will be a record 20,800 cases diagnosed this year, up from a yearly average of 19,300 between 2020 and 2022.

While the anti-sun tan lotion movement feels reminiscent of other misinformation campaigns we’ve seen spawn on TikTok, this one is noticeably more worrisome. My advice? Apply your sunscreen girlies, it’s important.

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