2016 Sunscreen Guide
Summer is here! Grab your towel and your sunscreen–but first get the inside scoop on sunscreens. Did you know that SPF 100 is only 2% better than SPF 30? Did you know that ALL sunscreens wear off after 2-3 hours? Read Evolve’s quick summary to avoid turning pasty white into nuclear red.
You have probably noticed higher and higher SPF numbers surfacing on sunscreens over the last few years. But is SPF 100+ that much better than SPF 30? What exactly does SPF mean? The truth is that it isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s easy to understand with this chart.
In the chart to the left, it’s easy to see that SPF 100 blocks out 99% of the rays while SPF blocks out 97%. SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburns, but not UVA rays, which are more closely linked to deeper skin damage. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the risk of skin cancer. And notice that SPF 100 does not block 100%–none of them do!
The SPF rating is not intuitive and doesn’t make a lot of sense to the average person. For instance, an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays.
“I don’t care if it’s SPF 800 or the best UVA protection, after a few hours it’s gone,” says one Dermatologist. “The best way make sure you are protected is to reapply sunscreen often.”
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends these 3 simple and basic points when selecting a sunscreen:
- Broad spectrum: this means you protect your skin from both types of harmful UV rays — the UVA rays and the UVB rays.
- SPF 30 or higher: SPF rating of 30 or higher is recommended (but benefit over 45 is questionable)
- Water resistant: This tells you that the sunscreen will stay on wet or sweaty skin for a while before you need to reapply. Water resistance lasts either 40 or 80 minutes. Not all sunscreens offer water resistance.
Remember: Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours or after swimming or drying off.
Are all sunscreens created equally?
According to Consumer Reports, EWG (Environmental Working Group) and other advocates, the answer is a resounding “No!” Important facts:
- The common sunscreen additive vitamin A may speed development of skin cancer (Retinyl palmitate)
- Some sunscreen ingredients disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies
- If you avoid sun, check your vitamin D levels
- In 2011, FDA determined that high SPF claims may be “inherently misleading.”
- No significant benefit over SPF 50
Avoid spray sunscreens!
According to Consumer Reports, use spray sunscreens carefully. The FDA has said it is exploring the risks. Until we know more, experts say to avoid using sprays on children, and do not spray them directly on your face.
The AAD also recommends that in addition to wearing sunscreen, take the following steps to protect your skin and find skin cancer early:
- Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, itching or bleeding on your skin, see a doctor immediately. Skin cancer is treatable when caught early.
The EWG’s “Sunscreen Guide for 2016” found 80% of the 1,700 tested sunscreens to be unsafe, ineffective or both. Evolve Medical’s primary care physicians strongly advise readers to choose a product from this list. More detailed information can be found regarding the safety–or potential danger–of certain sunscreen ingredients which the FDA and consumer groups are investigating currently.
For a good list of recommended sunscreens try one of these:
Here is a list of the 7 WORST brands:
- Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100**
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, Wacky Foam, and Sunscreen lotion, SPF 55
- CVS Baby Sunstick Sunscreen and Spray, SPF 55
- Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Sunscreen For Kids, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray and Stick products, SPF 70
- Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
What do you do if you find something?
If you have any doubt, see your primary care physician immediately. If you can’t be seen right away, Evolve Direct Primary Care is happy to see you same day by scheduling on-line here or calling 844-322-4222.