Sunscreen seems to have gotten way too complicated. Should you use SPF 100 sunscreen vs. SPF 30? The higher number is not always better.
People who use SPF 100 tend to stay out in the sun longer and don’t reapply resulting in harmful UV exposure. They have a false sense of security in using high SPF products.
So what do all these SPF numbers really mean? Theoretically, if you apply a SPF 100 you could stay in the sun a hundred times longer before your skin would burn. So if normally you would burn in 30 minutes, you could remain in the sun for 50 hours by applying SPF 100 before burning.
Reality is a different story. Using a higher SPF may lead to more UV damage to your skin:
- Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen in the first place. SPF factors are based on 2-5 times more sunscreen than people actually use.
- High SPF products contain higher amounts of sun blocking chemicals. These chemicals can penetrate the skin causing health risks (tissue damage and potential hormone disruption.)
- Many don’t reapply when using a higher SPF. Many sun blocking chemicals break down after a couple hours leaving your skin unprotected.
The doubling of the SPF does not mean a doubling of UV protection.
- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
- SPF 30 blocks 97% UVB rays
- SPF 50 blocks 99% UVB rays
The sensible approach is to limit your stay in the sun, wear a hat & protective clothing and apply an organic sunscreen that isn’t laden with toxic chemicals and reapply often for best sun protection.