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Does a High SPF Sunscreen really protect your skin?

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

In the realm of sun protection, the term "high SPF" is frequently promoted as the ultimate solution for safeguarding our skin from the sun's harmful UV rays. But is this claim based on fact, or is it merely a marketing gimmick? In this comprehensive blog post, we'll delve into the facts and myths surrounding high SPF sunscreens

high spf sunscreen myths bursted

Debunking the High SPF Myth

1. SPF only measures protection against UVB rays: The SPF rating only measures a sunscreen's effectiveness in protecting against UVB rays, which are primarily responsible for sunburns. However, it does not measure protection against UVA rays, which can cause long-term damage to the skin and contribute to skin aging and skin cancer

2. SPF protection is not linear: Sunscreen products boasting SPF values of 50, 70, or even 100 are quite common. But do these high figures genuinely translate to superior protection? The answer is NO.

"High SPF doesn't really matter."
SPF with percentage of their UV protection

Do you know that SPF 30 blocks approximately 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks around 98% and SPF 100 about 99%. As demonstrated, the increase in protection is minimal as the SPF value rises. Consequently, using a sunscreen with a higher SPF may not provide significantly better protection against sunburn and skin damage.

3. Higher SPF can lead to a false sense of security: People may apply a higher SPF sunscreen and think they are fully protected, leading them to spend more time in the sun without reapplying. This can be dangerous as even the highest SPF sunscreens are not completely effective at blocking all UV rays, and sun exposure can still cause damage to the skin.

4. Higher SPF can lead to decreased UVA protection: Some studies suggest that using a higher SPF sunscreen can lead to decreased protection against UVA rays. This is because sunscreen manufacturers may focus more on boosting the SPF rating than on ensuring that the sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Crucial Factors in Sun Protection

If high SPF isn't the key to effective sun protection, what is? The video suggests several factors to consider when choosing a sunscreen

1. Broad-Spectrum Protection

A sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection will shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can cause premature aging and contribute to skin cancer, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburns and skin cancer. Opt for sunscreens labeled as "broad-spectrum" to ensure you're receiving the best protection.

2. Water Resistance

If you plan on swimming or sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen. Keep in mind that no sunscreen is entirely waterproof, so it's crucial to reapply as directed on the product label.

3. Proper Application

Applying an adequate amount of sunscreen and reapplying it every two hours (or more frequently if swimming or sweating) is essential to guarantee the protection you need. Most people don't apply enough sunscreen, leaving them susceptible to sun damage. Two finger length are sufficient for sunscreen.

4. Sunscreen Type

There are two primary types of sunscreens: chemical and physical (also known as mineral). Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, while physical sunscreens reflect them. Some individuals may have sensitivities or allergies to specific chemical sunscreens, so finding a product that suits your skin type is vital.

5. Expiration Date

Sunscreens do expire, and using expired sunscreen can result in decreased protection. Always check the expiration date on your sunscreen and replace it if necessary.

6. Additional Sun Protection Measures

In addition to using sunscreen, consider other sun protection measures such as wearing protective clothing, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats. Additionally, seek shade during peak sun hours (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) to minimize sun exposure.

Overall, it's important to remember that sun protection is not just about using a high SPF sunscreen, but also about seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding the sun during peak hours. And when choosing a sunscreen, it's best to look for one that provides broad-spectrum protection, regardless of the SPF rating.


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