Is sunscreen with SPF 50 better than SPF 30? The answer might surprise you. Sunshine is a vital component that our bodies need in order to produce Vitamin D. We need Vitamin D for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus (which contribute to healthy bones and teeth) as well as a healthy immune system. A small amount of sunshine directly on the skin does the trick or one can take a supplement.
So, a few minutes of sun outside of peak-heat hours is good, but we all know that a lot of sun is bad and can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. Sunscreens can help protect us from the harmful effects of the sun, but which sunscreen should you use? Here are some facts you may not have known about sunscreen.
FACT 1: SPF 50 IS NOT MUCH BETTER THAN SPF 30
When I go shopping for sunscreen I always look for the highest SPF, believing that it is the best. Surely SPF 30 is twice as safe as SPF 15? The Skin Cancer Foundation says that SPFs can be misleading. An SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93 percent of UVB radiation, while an SPF 30 sunscreen blocks nearly 97 percent. Any SPF above 30 only has a small margin of extra protection e.g. SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. No sunscreen protects 100 percent against burning.
Experts agree that an SPF 30 is the sweet spot and anything higher just adds unnecessary cost. All skin types need sunscreen, dark skins can burn too.
FACT 2: IF YOUR SUNSCREEN DOESN’T HAVE UVA PROTECTION YOU’RE STILL AGING
SPF only refers to the protection against UVB rays. These are the rays that burn and cause skin cancer. Protection against UVB is vital, but it is the UVA rays that cause us to age (and ALSO cause skin cancer). An easy way to remember this is with UVB, B is for burn and in UVA, A is for aging. This means that even if you don’t burn red, UVA rays are aging your skin. Make sure you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA rays.
FACT 3: APPLYING TOO LITTLE SUNSCREEN DECREASES THE SPF
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, testers apply two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin to determine SPF. But in everyday life, most people apply only 0.5 to one milligram per square centimeter of skin. Consequently, the actual SPF they achieve is approximately one third of the labeled value.
A rule of thumb is to apply about one shot glass of sunscreen over your body and a dollop the size of a five Rand coin on your face. Lotions are generally considered to provide better coverage than sprays where one can miss a spot more easily.
FACT 4: YOU NEED TO REAPPLY OFTEN
I always thought that if I wear a high SPF this protects me for longer. Not true. It is best to apply water resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and to reapply every two hours, no matter how high the SPF is. If you’ve been sweating or swimming reapply immediately after.
FACT 5: THE INGREDIENTS MATTER
Sunscreen is effectively a concoction of chemicals and not all chemicals are beneficial to us. When buying sunblock look out for the beneficial ingredient zinc oxide. This is the main ingredient that blocks UVA rays. Try to avoid buying sunscreens that contain the ingredients “fragrance” and “parabens”. As with all skincare, these ingredients can be potentially harmful.
There is currently debate over the safety of the ingredient oxybenzone which is said to be carcinogenic or have estrogen-like effects on the body. While this is a controversial area, no studies are definitive as yet and you’d need to be exposed to extreme dosages.
OUR CURRENT FAVOURITE SUNSCREEN RECOMMENDATIONS
These are some of our current favourite sunscreens that tick most, if not all, of our requirements for a safe yet effective sunscreen that protects and nourishes the skin. Cruelty free; broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection; SPF 30+; antioxidants to boost the sun-protective factor; anti-aging ingredients; hydrating ingredients and preferably a sheer application. In some instances, the face products include light and even “illuminating” coverage, perfect for make-up free days.
1. Decléor Protective Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 30 50ml, R505 BUY
2. Zelens Daily Defence Sunscreen SPF 30 50ml, R1050 BUY
3. Stila Stay All Day 10-in-1 HD Illuminating Beauty Balm SPF 30, R595 BUY
4. Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream SPF30, available in 3 colours, R839 BUY
5. Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-on Sunscreen SPF 30, available in 4 colours, R880 BUY
6. Sunumbra Family Sunscreen SPF30 250ml, R429 BUY
7. Badger SPF30 Unscented Sunscreen 87ml, R336 BUY
8. Oh-Lief Natural Sunscreen SPF30 (Body) 100ml, R249 BUY
Did you know that even when you’re not in the sun you could be exposed to UVA and UVB rays? Read our article Wear Sunblock All Year Round for more info.
THIS IS NOT SPONSORED POST.
This post was originally published on 31 August 2017, and updated on 14 November 2018.