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The Myth About Higher SPF Sunscreen


I take sunscreen pretty seriously. My dad was diagnosed with skin cancer a few years ago, and our whole family went crazy sun-free. Large-rim hats, shady spots, and copious amounts of higher SPF sunscreen became a must.


While I still try to be extremely careful wherever I go, I don’t want to live my life in fear of the sun. I don’t want to be deprived of the beauty of summer nature, the feeling of the sun’s heat on my skin, or the community I have when playing outside with friends. I also think that God created us to enjoy the outdoors, so naturally we are going to encounter the sun at some point.


However, I have to remember how important it is to wear sunscreen when I read things like this from the American Skin Association“There is no such thing as a healthy tan, according to dermatologists, who look at a tan and see a sign of injury.”


We try to justify it by saying “I’m so young though, and being tan makes me feel good,” but would we want our younger selves to rack up credit card debt because buying things makes us feel good? No. So why treat our bodies poorly if we have to deal with the consequences later? [You’re lucky…Because this is where I stop myself from getting on my soap box and going on a how-our-country-is-plagued-by-instant-gratification rant.]


Okay, let me get back on track 🙂 It’s important to use sunscreen, yada yada yada. But I recently have been wondering how effective those SPF ratings actually are. Every time I go to the store, I gawk at the huge shelves of sunscreen. SPF 15, SPF 50, SPF 100…Coppertone Sport…Broad Spectrum, Ultra Protection… I mean, what on earth am I supposed to pick?


I’d heard a rumor lately that anything above SPF 50 isn’t any more effective than SPF 30, so I thought I’d research a little bit about it.


The Myth About Higher SPF Sunscreen:


  • The higher the SPF rating, the higher percentage of UVB rays are blocked…but not by much. For instance, SPF 15 blocks 94% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 45 blocks 98%. While you think you’re making a huge difference, you’re barely making a dent in the amount of rays coming through your sunscreen. Experts aren’t saying it’s bad to be more protected, they just are saying that the overprotection you think you’re getting isn’t really enough to make a difference in the long run.
  • Plus, our sunscreen helps block UVB rays, not UVA rays, which are the more dangerous ones that can lead to skin damage and skin cancer.
  • Higher SPF ratings can encourage people to stay outside longer, instead of seeking the shade and wearing sun-protective clothing. While they do help prevent sunburns, they can cause a false sense of security, prompting people to stay out longer than normal.


“Whatever product you choose, experts recommend using a water-resistant sunscreen applied liberally one half hour before going outdoors. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours or after swimming, drying off, or sweating.” (WebMD).


I certainly don’t want to scare anyone out of enjoying the sunshine, the same way I wouldn’t want you to think you could never eat out while you’re trying to save money. But it is important to be well-versed about sun exposure and to treat your body well. It’s all about staying healthy!




Author Anne

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