Sunscreen Shaming Is A Thing—And It Needs To Stop


Every time you’re tempted to skip the sunscreen for one beach day - don’t. (Photo: Getty Images)

At this point, you know how important it is to wear sunscreen every single day. And kudos to you, because you’ve now made it a daily ritual to slather SPF all over every inch of your body in the name of protecting yourself against melanoma (and signs of aging). But not everyone is so accepting. Here, a closer look at sunscreen shaming.

There’s an entire Reddit thread dedicated to the phenomenon. One commenter wrote, “I think that sunscreen-shaming is pretty prevalent in North America where the tan mentality is ever so present…. I get weird looks whenever I reapply sunscreen in public and my friends think I’m overzealous about protecting my skin. It’s an investment, I guess. It’s a highly individualized and personal thing.”

As sunscreen-obsessed beauty editors, many Allure staffers have felt similar frustrations when it comes to their vigilant sun protection. Here are some of the different types of sunscreen shaming we’ve experienced.

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Generation-gap shaming from our parents. “My dad still shames me for wearing sunscreen when we’re on vacation at the beach as a family,” says associate beauty editor Lexi Novak. “He always rolls his eyes when my mom and I insist on sitting under an umbrella, wearing hats, and reapplying SPF 60 regularly. He tells us, ‘Relax. A little color is good for us, and we look good with a little tan.’”

“But you’re already so pale!” shaming. “I’ve gotten a lot of crap for being pale over the years,” says researcher Lauren Hubbard. “Growing up in Texas, I basically glowed in the dark compared to everyone else. I’ve heard every Snow White joke in the book. I actually had one of those girls who hands out flyers for tanning salons follow me down the block once trying to get me to come into the salon for a free session.”

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Regional shaming. Senior digital editor Lauren Caruso hails from New Jersey, the land that worships deeply tanned (even burned) skin. “I’m pretty much sunscreen shamed anytime I walk outside with my friends from New Jersey,” she says. “We’ll be at the beach, and my friends are all putting on tanning oil, and I’m putting on SPF 50 and awkwardly trying to spray them with it without them knowing.”

Shaming from people who think they know better than you. Executive editor Kristin Perrotta says many people will try to dispel her belief that wearing sunscreen is good for her with totally bogus health threats. “I had one friend—a nutty organic person—tell me that I was going to poison myself with zinc oxide by wearing sunscreen every day,” says Perrotta. “I was like, 'I’ll take my chances with my sunscreen rather than get skin cancer, which is proven to happen.’”

If you’ve ever experienced sunscreen shaming, just know that you’re not alone. Our advice? Ignore the haters and keep slathering on that SPF. It could save your life.

By Renee Jacques

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