Why a Higher SPF Isn’t Always the Smartest Sunscreen Choice
If sun safety is important to you, here's a few things to consider before you grab that SPF 100 off the store shelves.
There's a lot of myths out there about sunscreen, so before I get to the truths, please allow me to share my personal favorite sunscreen story of all time.
My husband and I were once kayaking on the Kishwaukee River with some friends when we noticed that one of the guys in our group was reapplying his sunscreen every 30 minutes. Bravo to him for being proactive about his sun safety, but it was odd because we have never seen him do this before on our many river adventures. So, of course, we had to ask him what was up. When asked why he was reapplying sunscreen so often he simply said," I am wearing SPF 30, so that means I have to reapply every 30 minutes." Ok, no. I guess it's not a bad practice to do if you have the patience for reapplications every 30 minutes, but I still laugh hard every time I think about this.
Yes, it's true higher SPF sunscreens provide better sun protection, but here's a few reasons to be wary of the super high SPF numbers according to The Huffington Post:
- High SPF sunscreens tend to make us feel invincible and that we are completely safe from the sun for hours on end, which is not true. Reapplication is still needed.
- High SPF sunscreens do not have twice the sun protection. For example, a SPF 30 sunscreen is not twice the protection of SPF 15. In fact, the difference in sun protection effectiveness is only about 4%.
- High SPF sunscreens that claim to be waterproof are lying. In fact, it is illegal to say any sunscreen is waterproof, because it's not possible. They can only be water resistant.
To get the most protection from your sunscreen, experts still recommend using one with a SPF of 30 or higher, should be water resistant for at least 40 minutes, and be labeled as "broad spectrum" protection. They also suggest steering clear of spray sunscreens because total coverage is hard to achieve.