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By Dr. Peter Accetta
November 21, 2016
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: sunscreen  

            The SPF (sun protection factor) of a sunscreen is a measure of how long you can stay in the sun before burning. SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 97% of sun rays and an SPF 50 will block 98%; however the SPF 50 sunscreen will not provide any longer lasting protection than the SPF 30.

            Are there any benefits to higher number sunscreen like 85 or 100 SPF? Theoretically you wouldn’t think so but a new study conducted on the ski slopes of Vail Colorado demonstrated that 100 SPF sunscreen did indeed prevent more sunburns than SPF 50.

Here are some reasons why:

1. Even though higher number SPF sunscreen does not last longer most people use much less sunscreen than really needed. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that most people apply only 25-50% of the recommended amount. One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass is amount needed to cover the exposed areas of face, neck, upper chest and hands.

2. Sunscreens should be applied at least 15 minutes before going into sun otherwise they may not bind properly to the skin. If only some sunscreen binds properly the higher SPF would yield more protection.

3. Sunscreens should be applied every 2 hours and immediately after swimming. It’s unusual for people to reapply sunscreen this often. The way around this is to make some of your sunscreen contain a physical blocker like the mineral zine oxide and titanium dioxide which will stay on the skin until washed off. 

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