Is a higher SPF sunscreen always better?

Is a higher SPF sunscreen always better?

Is a higher SPF sunscreen always better? Let’s find out!

In a piece by medical doctor James Hamblin published in The Atlantic, he explains one of the biggest mistakes that people make when applying high SPF sunscreen.

When you wear SPF 100, you’re more likely to think you’re invincible, and you never need to reapply it, and you never need to go in the shade, and you can stay out all day,” Hamblin explained, “Where as when you just put SPF 30 on, you’re more likely to say, ‘Hey, I should still play it safe in the sun. I’m not invincible. In fact, I should reapply.’”

Using a very high SPF sunscreen can provide a false sense of security. But to understand that, you must understand what SPF actually means in the first place.

As explained by the Environmental Working Group:

Sunbathers often assume that they get twice as much protection from SPF 100 sunscreen as from SPF 50. In reality, the extra protection is negligible. Properly applied SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of sunburn rays; SPF 100 blocks 99 percent. When used correctly, sunscreen with SPF values in the range of 30 to 50 will offer adequate sunburn protection, even for people most sensitive to sunburn.

Other than the fact that differences between SPF are somewhat insignificant, there are other factors as well. For example, consumer research has shown that only 26 percent of natural sunscreens and 58 percent of chemical sunscreens actually had as much SPF protection as they claimed.

Also, there is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, which means you should reapply after being in the water or after sweating.

So is a higher SPF sunscreen always better for you? The answer is, not necessarily.

For more information on selecting the best sunscreen for you, check out our guide.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only.

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1. “Here’s Why A Higher SPF Isn’t Always Better.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2016.
2. “How SPF Ratings Can Do More Harm Than Good.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic, n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2016.
3. “What’s Wrong With High SPF?EWG. EWG, n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2016.

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