Are ultra-high SPF sunscreen labels misleading you?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 18, 2012 8:46 AM GMT
    Some doctors call ...ultra-high SPF numbers a misleading marketing ploy. If you buy SPF 100 over SPF 50, you may think you're getting double the protection. But you're actually only getting 1 percent more — which, doctors say, doesn't make a real difference.

    And the FDA agrees: There's no evidence that anything over SPF 50 protects you any better. Yet the SPF 70s, 80s, 100 — even 110 — often cost you more at the store.


    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/48225687/ns/today-today_rossen_reports/?
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    Aug 18, 2012 2:34 PM GMT
    The thing a lot of people don't understand is that SPF is simply an indicator of how much longer you can stay in the sun without burning than if you wore no sun protection. So if you would normally burn after 20 minutes in the sun, a product with SPF 15 allows you to stay in the sun fifteen times longer (300 minutes) before you start to burn. At some point the risk of irritation from higher SPF (think SPF 100) outweighs the benefit because unless you are literally going to spend the entire day in the sun, you still wouldn't burn if you were using a product with lower SPF.

    The other danger with sunscreen is that people think that just because they aren't burning, they aren't damaging their skin. If you wear a sunscreen and you get a tan, your skin is being damaged even if it doesn't actually burn. And, unfortunately, SPF ratings don't give you reliable information about how much damage is being done even when you don't burn.

    One thing I didn't see in the link but is important for consumers to be aware of, is that in order to get the most benefit from sunscreen, the sunscreen should provide broad spectrum protection. A sunscreen that doesn't provide broad spectrum protection might keep you from getting burned but does very little to prevent other damage from occurring. In the USA there are only a handful of active ingredients approved for broad spectrum protection - titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone are the most common.