Sunscreen: Fact and Fiction

Fiction: SPF 30 sunscreen is twice as strong as SPF 15 sunscreen.
Fact: SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a number that describes the percentage of UVB rays the sunscreen blocks out. SPF 15 blocks around 94% of rays, SPF 30 around 97%, and SPF 45 around 98%. SPF can be a misleading number to consumers because, as shown in the previous fact, SPF describes a percentage of effectiveness of blocking out rays.

Fiction: It’s better to look for the highest SPF possible.
Fact: Once you get to SPF 45, your protection is already at 98%. Anything higher than SPF 50 will only be marginally better for your skin, yet often at a much higher cost. It’s best to focus on applying a liberal amount of sunscreen and applying it often. Additionally, purchasing broad spectrum is an equally important factor when buying sunscreen. Broad spectrum means that it blocks out both types of the sun’s damaging rays: UVB and UVA.

Fiction: Higher SPF sunscreens last longer.
Fact: Sunscreen at any SPF level needs to reapplied every 90 minutes – 2 hours for continued effectiveness.

Fiction: Only people with light, pale skin need to apply sunscreen.
Fact: Everyone is susceptible to sun damage, all skin types. Melanin helps protect the skin from the sun, which may make darker skin less susceptible to sunburns, but still vulnerable to UV rays from the sun. UV rays causes damage to all skin types and increases the risk of skin cancer, without necessarily producing a sunburn.

Fiction: You can only sunburn when it is sunny out.
Fact: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 80% of UV rays can pass through clouds. It’s important to wear sunscreen everyday, even on an overcast day.

Clara E.

Originally from upstate New York, Clara moved to Brooklyn in the spring of 2017 to finish her undergraduate degree and pursue her passions for architectural restoration, music composition, and visual art. She works as a receptionist at Element. In her free time, Clara likes to explore new neighborhoods, go to museums, and play the piano.

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