HIGH SPF, BETTER SUNSCREEN RIGHT? NOT!
You may believe that higher the SPF factor on your sunscreen, the longer you can stay out in the sun without a risk of sunburn.
SPF numbers like 100 or 150 can give users a false sense of security.
You may also believe that SPF 100 is twice as effective as SPF 50.
Since one in 4 sunscreen products are spray, you may believe that they are just as safe as regular sun lotion.
Being out of sun’s harmful UV rays is important. In 2013 alone, per National Cancer Institute, more than 76,000 men and women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with melanoma and 9,480 are expected to die from the aggressive form of skin cancer. The disease, which is often linked to ultraviolet exposure, is usually curable when detected early.
The SPF number indicates the amount of sun exposure needed to cause sunburn on sunscreen-protected skin compared with unprotected skin.
For example, a SPF rating of 50 means it would take the person 50 times longer to burn wearing sunscreen than with exposed skin.
However high SPF numbers are just a gimmick.
Where an SPF 50 product might protect against 97 percent of sunburn-causing rays, an SPF 100 product might block 98.5 percent of those rays.
In 2011, FDA said that “labeling a product with a specific SPF value higher than 50 would be misleading to the consumer.”
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
- · Avoid sunscreens labeled with > 30 (higher) SPF factor. They have no significant benefits. Most people don’t need more than an SPF 30. They should reapply it every couple of hours.
- · Avoid those labeled “waterproof”. You still need to reapply in a few hours to protect your skin.
- · Use sunscreen in combination with hats, clothing and shade, which provide better protection against ultraviolet radiation.
- · FDA is also reviewing spray-on sunscreen to look at whether the sprays can be harmful when inhaled. Don’t buy spray or powder. Use lotions instead.
- · Avoid products that include oxybenzone (found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreens), which can penetrate the skin, cause allergic reactions, possibly disrupt hormones, and may have a link to a risk of endometriosis and low birth weights.
- · Avoid retinyl palmitate, a form of anti-oxidant vitamin A that has been said to slow skin aging. It’s been found to possibly speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight.
- · Safer options block sun with low-risk ingredients such as zinc oxide, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. Find a complete list of chemicals and their risks here.
EWG’s List of Best Sunscreens (with average prices):
EWG’s List of Worst Sunscreens: