Dispelling the Myth of “the higher the SPF, the better the sunscreen”
It is a cardinal rule to wear SPF, to ambitiously include it in your beauty skincare routine. Skin experts and dermatologists live by this rule. However, there is more than meets the eye with sunscreens and SPF.
Our skin normally begins to burn after 10 minutes in the sun without any protection. SPF as we all know is the sun protection factor, which people assume to be the main component for sun protection. A 30 SPF would provide 30 times the protection compared to no sunscreen. But, there is no sunscreen out there that can stop all harmful UV radiation from reaching the cells in your body.
There are two types of UV rays that can affect your skin. They are UVA and UVB. The latter is what makes tans and and gives us sunburns. UVA radiation however, can penetrate further into your skin and contribute to skin cancer.
Taking a closer look at the SPF number, three percent of UVB rays can hit your skin with an SPF 30 sunscreen and two percent of the sun rays still reach your skin with an SPF of 50. This difference may seem small, but you will realise that the SPF 30 is actually permitting 50 percent more UVB onto your skin.
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Regrettably, SPF does not give an actual measurement of how well and how much it will protect you from UVA. Without UVA-screening ingredients, you may still be prone to receiving a large amount of radiation which can be detrimental to the skin. For the least of such occurrences, the regulatory bodies in Europe and Australia have capped the SPF of sunscreens at 50 by adopting UVA testing guidelines.
It is also important to know that UVA radiation is not considered when using SPF. There is no measurement and actual scale for UVA, so it is necessary to use a sunscreen that is labelled as “broad spectrum”. The Food and Drug Administration that regulates the sale of sunscreens have made it simpler to cap the SPF of sunscreens at 50+. There has been no evidence to show that an SPF higher than 50 has been beneficial in any way.
To this end, it is not enough to look at just the SPF. A sunscreen with an SPF between 30 and 50 is good enough to protect you from UVB. Any SPF higher than that offers very minimal additional benefit. So, it is not entirely true that the higher the SPF, the better the sunscreen.
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