Have you noticed that the SPF number on sunscreens are getting higher and higher? So are the price tags for some of these “SPF 100+” sunscreens. As was previously discussed in “Sun Safety and Sunscreen”, SPF, sun protection factor, refers the length of time that sunscreen protected skin can be exposed to UVB rays before a minimal redness appears, compared to the length of time it takes on unprotected skin.
Health Canada recommends a minimum SPF of 15, but would SPF 30 be twice as good and SPF 60 4x as good?
Not quite. A sunscreen with SPF 15 protects the skin from 93% of UVB radiation and a sunscreen with SPF of 30 provides 97% UVB protection.
As SPF increases, the UVB protection does increase, but not proportionally.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following checklist for choosing a sunscreen:
- SPF 30 or higher
- Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection
- Water resistant – for up to 40-80 minutes
It’s important to remember to apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going out into the sun and then re-applied 15-30 minutes after exposure to get maximum protection.
Make sure to re-apply every 1-2 hrs depending on how fair your skin is and whether you’re swimming or sweating excessively.
So do you need SPF 100?
Probably not. A good quality SPF 30 sunscreen applied properly and reapplied regularly should give you adequate sun protection.
Could these higher SPF sunscreens provide slightly higher UVB protection?
Yes, they can but remember they do come with a higher price tag and tend to come in smaller bottles.
If you have any questions or concerns about choosing an appropriate sunscreen or if you have any specific allergies to sunscreen ingredient, feel free to ask your knowledgeable pharmacy team at the Canadian Compounding Pharmacy. We’re here to help!
- The Burning Facts. US Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 430-F-06-013. Sept 2006. http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/doc/sunscreen.pdf
- Sunscreen FAQ. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens#.UfSL2VM3ibI
- Knowles Sandra. Chapter 64: Prevention and Treatment of Sun-Induced Skin Damage. In: Patient Self-Care 2nd Edition. 2010; Canadian Pharmacists Association. Toronto Ontario. p610.