SPF 50 sunscreen and other higher SPF products

The high SPF sunscreens have been gaining much attention and more people are falling for them simply because of their higher SPF claim. Sunscreen products of 30+SPF rating are pretty standard and the more recent formula containing 50+ SPF rating of sunscreen are just about 1 percent more effective than the prior in terms of blocking the harmful ultraviolet rays. However, people tend to buy products with a higher SPF rating thinking that they are more effective in the same proportion as their ratings.

SPF50 Sunscreen Truth

SPF 50 sunscreens are just a tad bit better than SPF 30 ones. However, the general assumption is that the prior is just twice as effective as the latter. But actually, the added numbers of SPF are almost pointless in terms of the protection they offer to the skin. SPF 50 can block 98% of the sun’s rays while SPF 100 can block about 99% of the rays. So for almost everyone, sunscreens with SPF 30 are considered to be ideal. They would work best even for those who are extremely sensitive to the sun’s rays.

What is SPF and SPF50

SPF or Sun Protection factor is a rating system that denotes the time that they can stay in the sun without getting sunburns. This implies that for a normal person, a sunscreen with 30+SPF would give 30 times more protection to their skin than if they didn’t apply it. We can easily relate this to the amount of time that a person can spend outdoors without getting affected by the sun’s rays. For eg, if a person can spend 30 minutes in the sun without hurting their skin, applying a 30+SPF sunscreen will allow them to stay 30 times longer i.e. for 900 minutes, or 15 hours of protection from the sun. However, this is an idealization as under natural conditions, there are many factors that would effect the duration for which a sunscreen is effective. Sweat, dust and rubbing off will swipe away the cream applied on the skin. Therefore, don’t expect to stay protected from the sun for 15 hours as calculated earlier.

SPF 50+ sunscreens: lack of effectiveness

The sunscreens are mainly aimed at blocking ultraviolet rays from the sun which are the main cause of sunburns. Therefore, the elements or say that ingredients that make up a sunscreen are essentially the ones that block the ultraviolet rays. The sunscreens can only block Ultraviolet B rays that are of lower frequency than the Ultraviolet A rays. The latter are hard to block using elements that have been approved by the FDA in the US. Therefore, most of the sunscreens although being able to block UV B rays aren’t able to block the more harmful UV A rays.

SPF 50 and SPF 100 products encourage people to stay outside longer

People feel more protected using SPF 50+ products and are encouraged to spend longer hours in the sun. Hence, they expose themselves to the sun’s rays for a prolonged period of time, thus making themselves vulnerable to the effects of both Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B rays. As they expose their skin for a longer time to the sun, they are more prone to be effected by the harmful UVA and UVB rays.

SPF50+ sunscreen: Should you use them?

That said, the SPF50+ and other higher SPF products pose a higher risk on the health esp. given to the fact that they contain stronger concentration of chemicals. They contain ingredients that can penetrate deeper into the skin and cause hormonal imbalance and a slew of other side effects. They contain compounds like Zinc Oxide, titanium dioxide etc. which can show harmful effects upon penetrating the skin.

So, if you want to use sunscreens to protect yourself from the sun rays, you would be better off using SPF30 products rather than the SPF50 ones. Also, make sure not to stay for prolonged hours even with sunscreen on.