Today’s youth are well aware of the dangers of extremely risky behaviors such as hard-drug use, unsafe sex, and reckless driving. Now I propose an addition to this category: sunscreen avoidance. It’s the hottest trend on TikTok, and it’s coming for you, kids!

Frying one’s keister on the beach is nothing new. As a teen, my mom used iodine and sun reflectors to double down on golden skin. I even endured a peer-pressured phase of drenching myself in baby oil, only to become a human Jiffy Pop of burn blisters on lobster-esque epidermis. Sorry if you just ate.

But that was decades ago. Today, it’s common knowledge that daily sunscreen use is essential. But in the fervor for “clean” beauty, whatever that means—and with the knowledge that some potentially harmful chemicals contained in sunscreens are banned in several other countries—clueless influencers like Gisele Bündchen have decided to let nature take its course. Edgy! Retro! Dumb!

With skin-cancer diagnoses on the rise, it’s astonishing that people think it’s somehow retro and cool to pursue a St. Tropez tan. I clearly remember the Piz Buin jingle (“Love the sun / Worship your skin!”). But isn’t that like hiring a flock of chickens to shill for KFC? How can you worship your skin if you love a scalding fireball that causes melanoma?

Yeah, yeah. Vitamin D and flora and fauna—need it all! But like today’s pot, the sun of my Gen X youth was very different from the one we broil under today. For one, humanity has done serious damage to Mother Nature’s S.P.F. umbrella, the ozone layer; I believe there’s even a New Jersey–size hole in it, courtesy of the hair-sprayed mall rats of the 1980s. Thanks, Bon Jovi!

Secondly, in a world where social media is considered a primary source, there’s an awful lot of science-denying. The complementary myths of a “sickly” pallor and a “healthy” tan persist. Ignorami: it’s the opposite. I am well aware that my middle-aged vampire look is not for everyone, but still.

As a kid, I never wore any sun protection, but I always slathered it on my children. Maybe after years of wriggling under mom’s greasy hands, today’s teens are simply being contrarian.

But why is sunscreen being shamed? Largely due to the ingredients in the chemical formulas, such as avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. They are absorbed into the skin and convert UV rays into heat that is released throughout the body. While these products prevent sun damage, some studies suggest that long-term, daily use could mean exposure to potentially harmful levels of certain chemicals.

On Instagram and TikTok, a disturbing number of influencers, like @simpleorganix and @EssentiallyErin_, are blowing these warnings way out of proportion. Some even eschew S.P.F. on the grounds that their ancestors didn’t have it hundreds of years ago. Yeah, but they croaked early, you dipshits!

“Patients either say, ‘Should I be worried about sunscreens?’ or they tell me they’ve stopped wearing it altogether because of these concerns,” says dermatologist Amy Wechsler, who finds this all very troubling.

The complementary myths of a “sickly” pallor and a “healthy” tan persist. Ignorami: it’s the opposite.

But, she explains, fear of sunscreen is completely unfounded. “The skin is [such] an excellent barrier at keeping the good things in and the bad things out that no one has to be worried about sunscreens,” she says. Those who remain especially cautious can choose a zinc-oxide- or titanium-dioxide-based formula. “Minerals are not chemicals,” says Wechsler. “They are inert. There’s nothing to worry about.” And they are also extremely effective at blocking UV rays.

Gucci Westman, the makeup artist and founder of Westman Atelier, has a different approach. “I have contact dermatitis and rosacea, and it flares up whenever I wear sunscreen,” she says. Instead, Westman wears hats and sun-blocking clothing from brands like Cover Swim to create a physical barrier between her skin and the sun. “I love when I have a look of warmth in my skin, but you can use makeup for that,” she says.

I never let the sun near my ass-white face, but if I had to, you best believe I’d go full Kabuki with that zinc. Which brings me to my own melanoma experience—one dumb mole turned into an excision, a re-excision, an M.R.I. with 16 injections of a radioactive dye, and then an intense surgery that included the removal of lymph nodes. I spent two weeks in a wheelchair and walked around for a month with a cane. Fun!

So this Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, please be extra, extra, extra retro and go back to basting yourself in the thickest, gooiest zinc you can find. There’s always Gucci’s bronzer to help you achieve that Kardashified ’gram, if that’s what you really want.

I recently walked by the famed apothecary C.O. Bigelow, in the West Village, to discover that the windows were plastered with a cheerful, seasonal message: LUST FOR THE SUN. Lust? Guys, no. You never fuck the sun. It only fucks you.

Jill Kargman is the author of Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave and Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut. She also created and starred in the Peacock series Odd Mom Out