Don't be fooled by the popular TikToks telling you sunscreen is toxic and oil-free diets will protect your skin
Some social media posts claim that sunburns are caused by our diets — particularly seed oils.
A growing number of influencers are saying that eating the right foods will protect you from sunburns more than SPF.
While some foods can improve skin health, doctors say sunscreen is crucial to prevent burns and cancer.
Perhaps the worst skincare trend of the early aughts was using tanning beds, each celebrity racing to be more copper-toned than the last. Since then, increased awareness of skin cancer risks and premature aging has made sun protection more of a cultural norm, but some people have recently reverted back to hating sunscreen.
Videos on TikTok stating that you don't need sunscreen, and your diet alone can protect your skin, have gotten thousands of views over the past year. "When people get sunburned, it's not because they're not wearing enough sunscreen, it's not because they've been in the sun too long," said creator Sam Knight, who has more than 84,000 followers, "a lot of times it's because of their diet."
@miketooreall Reply to @dg6560 sunscreen is bad for you😳🤯 #sunscreen #skin #health #sunblock #woketok #wakeup #mtr3 #thematrix #food #seedoils #foodindustry #americandiet ♬ Suspense, horror, piano and music box - takaya
Knight made that claim in September 2022, but with summer just around the corner, the idea is gaining steam again. "Here's the number one reason why you're getting sunburned every summer," said Alex Grubish from The Wellness Way, in April, "it's because there's a good chance you might be eating too many seed oils."
Seed oils in particular are being accused of causing sunburns — one Instagram post with more than 45,000 likes titled "How to tan without sunscreen," said that you can't get skin cancer if you're not eating seed oils, according to a 2019 study (for the record that's absolutely not what the study, which was only performed on cells in a lab, found).
Many of these posts state that the right foods will prevent sunburn and give you a healthier tan instead. (Reader, there is no such thing as a safe tan!)
But actual dermatologists have a more straightforward answer. "Online claims that suggest you can avoid sunscreen use if you eat the right foods are false," Dr. Alexander Witkowski, an assistant professor of dermatology at the OHSU School of Medicine, told Insider. While some foods can influence your skin health, he said, it is still essential for people to use sunscreen and limit sun exposure.
Seed oils are a common ingredient, and they won't make you burn
The idea that seed oils are "toxic" and consuming them is a major source of our nutritional woes was popularized by advocates for "ancestral health." The anti-seed oil movement argues that more inflammation can worsen skin damage, undermine the protection of substances in your body such as collagen, and contribute to sunburn.
However, there's no evidence to support these claims, registered dietitians previously told Insider. Research suggests that seed oils don't increase markers of cellular damage such as inflammation — and in some cases even appear to reduce them.
And there's no legitimate research directly showing that consuming more seed oils increases your chances of burning in the sun, or that cutting them out can prevent it.
Some studies show a vitamin-rich diet can improve general skin health
While eating specific foods can't protect you from the sun like sunscreen can, some foods are better than others for overall skin health, and may make your skin more resilient against UV light. According to Witkowski, foods "rich in pigments and antioxidants" fall in this category, including carotenoid-rich foods (carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes) and foods with sun-protective polyphenols (strawberries, grapes).
Additionally, he said vitamins C and E, omega-3s, and polyphenols found in green tea all have skin benefits like reducing inflammation or the degree of skin damage.
If you're following a healthy diet, you should already be eating many of these foods. So chances are, the amount of broccoli you consume hasn't saved your skin from a brutal sunburn.
When you're in the sun, food is no substitute for SPF
While Witkowski said that changing your diet can benefit your skin, he strongly emphasized "the judicious use of SPF 30 sunscreen, hats, and UV-protective clothing" is still the best way to protect yourself from a sunburn — and from skin cancer.
He said "the most studied, clinically safe, and effective" are mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which work as physical barriers against both UVA and UVB rays. Time to slather it on.
Read the original article on Insider