Tag Archive: SPF

This is a great schematic I came across on Stumbleupon. Really gives a nice overview of sunscreen, exposure, skin cancer, etc. Worth a look as we approach summer.

Check out our friends at the Sun Safe-Tee Program out in Southern California! SolarAegis is a proud sponsor! Mark Wishner and his organization are doing tons to raise awareness about sun health and sun protection for our youth as they embark into the wonderful world of golf! Visit their website to learn more at www.sunsafetee.org. Also, see the video below with some of the PGA’s supporters of the SunSafeTee Program!

SunSafeTee and the PGA

SPF 15? 30? 45? 75? 100?!! Which one is best? There are clearly many choices in the market and intuition tells us the higher the SPF number the better, right? Well, not so fast. Lets look at some simple facts first:

  • SPF really only tells us about the level of protection from UVB rays. If you read my last post, however, ¬†you would understand this is only part of our concern when protecting ourselves from the sun. Be that as it may, it’s what we have to work with for the time being.
  • SPF 30 is twice as strong as SPF 15, right? Nope. Just the facts please, ma’am. SPF 15 blocks 94% of UVB rays and SPF 30 only gets us to 97% of UVB rays. Well, we’re creeping closer to that 100% protection mark so now it gets exciting! No again, sorry to disappoint, but there is no 100% protection from UVB rays. SPF 100 won’t even give you that. Bottom line, SPF is the law of diminishing returns. Dermatologists recommend at least SPF 15. 30 is better. Apply liberally, then reapply liberally again in a few hours. More frequently depending on skin type, sun intensity, time of exposure and level/type of activity.

So why all of these high SPF numbers? Well, it’s about sales and marketing. The consumer’s perception is “a higher SPF must be better for me”. Personal care companies that market sunscreen products want to capitalize on this and it’s one of the reasons suncare has grown to over $1 billion, annually, in the U.S. alone. Forget it’s a $7+ billion industry globally.

The FDA has moved to change labeling regulations in 2011 where nothing more than a 30 SPF could be claimed on a sunscreen product. Good, bad or indifferent, this will likely get postponed as the personal care companies lobby to have the changes extended to a future date. It means more time to sell the higher protection factors and more money to bank for the corporate guys.

Ok, so what do we do in the meantime? Save your money and buy a 30 SPF, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen. Don’t let SPF lull you into a false sense of security with UVA. This is the bad guy that contributes the most to skin cancer so we need to make sure we are optimizing our protection. Although there are chemical UV filters that block some UVA, products containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide are better at managing UVA. Stick to these and keep reapplying. Stay safe and have fun!