Is A Higher SPF Sunscreen Better?

It seems obvious when buying sunscreen that you want the highest SPF product to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ways, right?

Actually, there is not a very big difference between an SPF 15 product and an SPF 50 product.

It is important to know what SPF is before you compare sunscreen products.

“The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number indicates the amount of theoretical protection you get compared to wearing nothing. So, if it takes 20 minutes to burn without protection, it will take 15 times longer – five hours – while wearing SPF 15.”

Also, SPF only measures protection against UVB exposure (rays that contact the surface of skin, causing sunburns), not UVA (rays that penetrate the skin and burn within, causing skin cancer).

You must look for “Broad Spectrum” products, which contain ingredients that cover both UV rays.

When comparing SPF 15 and SPF 50 products, SPF 15 protects you from about 93% of UVB rays at any given moment, SPF 50 from 98%, and SPF 100 protects from 99%.

SPF 100 is “double” what SPF 50 is, but it only protects 1% more.

Therefore, you should not purchase sunscreen based on the SPF.

The SPF number is obtained in a lab with an amount of product that no human ever actually uses, according to Dr. Darrell Rigel, a dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group and a clinical professor at NYU.

“If you were to put that on, [you would] be white as a sheet of paper. It would be ridiculous. People use approximately 25 to 50 percent of the rated amount in the real world, and therefore, they’re getting 25 to 50 percent of the SPF,” Rigel explained.

A study that was performed to “prove” SPF 100 is superior to SPF 50 has been controversial as it was funded by the owners of the first SPF 100 product themselves, Johnson & Johnson.

They compared their Neutrogena SPF 100 product against a Banana Boat SPF 50 product, meaning there are issues with the methodology as these products have differing ingredients.

The FDA does regulate sunscreens because the ingredients are considered to be over-the-counter drugs.

The FDA has considered a mandate that companies can only label sunscreens up to SPF 50+, which many other countries do, due to not enough sufficient evidence that higher SPFs are better.

Over the past five years or so, the messaging has been clear that using anything over 50 is probably unnecessary.

Although, according to Dr Rigel, “The FDA is actually using the paper now to take a look at this and they probably will not be putting an SPF cap of 50+ on sunscreens at this point.”

Rigel also said it’s very difficult to chemically engineer a product much higher than an SPF 100, but these products will be for sale now.

Neutrogena’s Sheer Dry Touch SPF 100 sunscreen is $8.10 for three ounces; the SPF 55 version is $7.11 for the same size.

It’s a dollar price difference for two products that are relatively the same.

The FDA recommends a Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+ sunscreen containing the main active ingredient Zinc Oxide.

(Original Article:

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