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Out-of-control tanning tips are trendy on social media. A doctor shares the dangers behind them.

Tips for choosing an effective sunscreen
Tips for choosing a sunscreen that is safe and effective 02:13

Despite a better awareness for skin cancer and ways to prevent it, some people are taking to social media to share their extreme sun habits.

From anti-sunscreen stances to out-of-control tanning tips, we asked a dermatologist to weigh in on some of the outrageous takes we're seeing on TikTok and beyond.

First up: skipping sunscreen altogether. 

In a video with nearly 50,000 views, TikTok user @will.lamb.1 says he's "not going to wear sunscreen this summer, and neither should you" to his more than 80,000 followers. "Laguna Beach" star Kristin Cavallari raised eyebrows for a podcast clip in which she admitted to not wearing sunscreen. And in a video posted to Twitter with 1.2 million views, user @GubbaHomestead writes, "I don't wear sunscreen, and I never will," calling sunscreen the "enemy."

Experts disagree. 

Anytime of year, but especially as we spend more time outdoors, wearing sunscreen is vital in helping protect skin from the sun's harmful rays. 

The American Cancer Society recommends using a broad spectrum sunscreen (which protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with a sun protection factor, or SPF, value of 30 or higher. You should be wearing this level of sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days, according to the American Academy of Dermatology

"A lot of those platforms are really there for entertainment, and not for education," Dr. Alexandra Theriault, a dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners Denver, told CBS News, reminding people to seek professional medical advice, not influencers' opinions. 

"The best advice you're going to get is if you make a consultation with your dermatologist," she said. "Everybody's got different types of skin, different color of skin, different issues that they're trying to address and you're really not going to get a customized plan without seeing somebody in person."

And while skin cancer is also the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreen isn't the cause — which some on social media claim.

Instead, increases can be attributed to environmental factors and increased awareness and diagnosis, Theriault said.

"There is no increased risk that's ever been proven with any sunscreen ingredient," she said. "The increase that we're seeing in skin cancer is that we do have an ozone hole that has been increasing... The other is that people actually go to the doctor more than they used to, so we're seeing more skin cancers being diagnosed because people are getting more screenings than they used to."

Another trend is using household oils to tan.

One video with more than 160,000 likes shows someone using olive oil to help her tan without being "full of chemicals." Others are showing off their tans after using baby oil or tanning oil products with no SPF. 

"Oils that don't have any sun protective ingredients in them have never helpful against sun exposure," Theriault said, adding there's evidence olive oil can actually irritate skin.

And remember, you don't have to get a sunburn to suffer sun damage. Wearing sunscreen not only helps reduce the risk of cancer but also cosmetic concerns that result from the sun's rays. 

"We know the sun and UV rays result in photoaging, sun spots, wrinkles and increased risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen helps protect against these effects," dermatologist Dr. Samer Jaber of at Washington Square Dermatology in New York, previously told CBS News. "When you are outside, please practice sun-safe behaviors."

What to know about "chemicals" in sunscreen

A common thread in these trends is a desire to be more "natural," often prompted by fears around chemical sunscreen, which often carry misconceptions due to the labeling.

While reports on the risks of chemicals like PFAS may have primed people to view the word "chemicals" as "bad," it simply describes one of two types of sunscreen: chemical and mineral, which are categorized based on their active ingredients. 

Chemical sunscreens, which include chemical UV filters, work like a sponge, absorbing radiation from UV rays. Mineral sunscreens have physical UV filters, which work like a shield that deflects rays by sitting on the surface of your skin.

Specific ingredients of chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone have been shown to be detected in the body even weeks after use, but as CBS News' Nikki Battiste reported last year, that doesn't mean they are dangerous.

"Nothing has really been shown to date as far as any health effects," Theriault said, but adds people can opt for mineral sunscreen instead if they prefer.

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