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For Sunscreen, It’s About Quantity Not Quality

Higher SPF does not make significant difference as perceived


What's going on?

Shopping for sunscreen can be an overwhelming experience for some outdoor explorers. With so many colors, brands, and levels of protection to pick from, it’s a common choice to select the bottle with the highest sun protection factor (SPF). However, it has been found that the level of SPF doesn’t make the biggest difference – but applying the right amount does.


Sunscreen is an important agent in protecting against UV radiation from the sun, specifically UVB radiation, which is the leading cause of skin cancer. When purchasing a bottle of sunscreen, it might seem ideal to purchase the brand with the highest SPF. However, dermatologists suggest that the higher the SPF, the less of a practical difference it makes. SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 minimally closes the margin at 97% and sunblock containing SPF 50 blocks 98%. The sunscreen protection factor is calculated according to the time it takes for a person to burn unprotected in comparison to being protected. Since sweat and friction wear off any level of sunscreen in two hours, the difference in protection is irrelevant.


When heading out for a day on the beach or walk through the park, it is important to apply the right amount of sunscreen and reapply every two hours. UV rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, and clouds do not always stop rays from shining through. Hence, applying and reapplying sunscreen remains the top priority when enjoying the outdoors for the best protection.


When It Comes to Sunscreen, the SPF Isn't as Crucial as You Think