Two things come to mind when I think of Lululemon: opaque yoga pants that won’t show your undies, and those iconic red, quote-covered tote bags that proclaim mantras like “creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment,” and “friends are more important than money.”
But have you actually stopped to read every single word on the Lululemon tote bag? One person did, and noticed a phrase that has promptly angered the internet.
In a Reddit post, user paynowork uploaded a photo of the bag with the caption, “Wait, what? Interesting message about sunscreen on my Lululemon bag.” In the photo, the following quote is clearly visible: “Sunscreen absorbed into the skin might be worse for you than sunshine. Get the right amount of sunshine.” Yup.
Within minutes, frantic comments began popping up, with emotions ranging from frustrated (“People with influence spreading pseudoscience and misinformation are the worst”) to the incredibly annoyed, with the overall sentiment of the thread best summed up in a word: ugh.
“Are you serious?” asked Yale dermatologist Mona Gohara when I asked for her thoughts on Lululemon’s sun advice. “That is actually really scary, because according to the American Academy of Dermatology, there has thus far been no scientific proof that sunscreen is harmful or bad or carcinogenic when applied to the skin.”
“There is, on the other hand, ample data that shows how just a few minutes of unprotected sun exposure can lead to skin cancer,” she says. “It’s like smoking half a cigarette and thinking, ‘meh, it’s just half.’ No, a carcinogen is a carcinogen is a carcinogen, and sun is a carcinogen.”
Considering the fact that one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies of melanoma every 54 minutes, you can’t really blame someone — especially dermatologist someones — for getting heated over this unsubstantiated advice from a major wellness brand. Sure, going outside and getting some fresh air is important, but it shouldn’t be done without some sunscreen.