To prepare for days in the summer sun, sunscreen with the proper SPF is a must to protect against harmful UVB rays that increase the risk of skin cancer. Higher SPF numbers correlate with better UVB protection, but a recent study shows that the SPF labels do not always match the SPF protection provided by sunscreens. In this blog entry, Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares an article from CBS News called, “Some sunscreens don’t live up to their SPF claims” and explains the study and ways to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains the dangers of harmful UV rays.
SPF, or sun protection factor, measures a sunscreen’s ability to block dangerous UVB rays that cause sunburn. UVA rays, or rays that lead to wrinkled and aging skin, are not measured by SPF but can be just as damaging to skin. Both types of UV ray increase the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers, making sunscreen an important factor for healthy skin. Skin can be damaged by UV rays after just 10 minutes of intense sun exposure.
In a recent study conducted by Consumer Reports, 34 sunscreens were evaluated for their effectiveness in blocking UVB and UVA rays. To test UVB protection, different sunscreens were applied to patches of skin and exposed to six levels of UVB light. The effectiveness was evaluated by how red the skin appeared the next day. To test UVA protection, Consumer Reports applied each sunscreen to a plastic plate and shined a UV light through it to see how much light passed through each sunscreen. According to the study, 11 of the sunscreens tested were 16% to 70% less effective than advertised and did not provide the amount of SPF protection listed on their labels. Of the 34 sunscreens tested, only 15 performed well enough to earn Consumer Report’s recommendation.
“This is something that every dermatologist has known for years and has been extremely hard to convince our patients of until now,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “It seems wrong that numbers lie but in the case of sunscreens they just do. That’s why I only trust EltaMD or CoTZ on my skin when I go out. They have different standards that are clearly better.”
What I’ve been telling my patients for years, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.
Sunscreen is an important part of a daily skincare regimen, and there are several ways to ensure its effectiveness. Dr. Joel Schlessinger and other dermatologists have several recommendations for preventing sun damage to your skin:
- Wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 every day, but choose a higher SPF on days when you know you’ll be outdoors.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
- Avoid being outside when the sun is at its peak, which is usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Protect your skin with proper clothing including wide-brimmed hats and loose-fitting long sleeve shirts.
- Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen such as EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen to protect your skin against both UVB and UVA rays.
- In addition to these sun protection measures, supplements such as Heliocare Sun Protection Pills provide added UV protection.
Do you have questions about sunscreen? Ask in the comments section below.