Friday, May 7, 2010

The Confusing Issue of Sunscreen

It's almost Summer and after a long winter it's time to start thinking of beach balls, swimsuits, and sunscreen. The kids are excited and so are you: finally they can burn off all that endless energy by running around and playing outside. SO you go to your favorite store to pick out some sunscreen BUT when you get there, it's a variable sea of CONFUSION. So what do you do? what do you choose? what is up with all these SPF factors?

Years ago it seemed that you would have a choice of SPF 5, 10, 15, and 30. Now, you see SPF factors all the into the 100+ category. Does that mean that an SPF 100 gives you 6 times the protection of an SPF 15? Absolutely NOT.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. An SPF 30 provides 96.7% protection, whereas an SPF 50 is only marginally better at 98% and SPF 100 is only 1% more at 99%. Quoting from the May 13th, 2009 NY Times Skin Deep article "Confused by SPF? Take A Number" this is how SPF is calculated:

"A sunscreen’s SPF number is calculated by comparing the time needed for a person to burn unprotected with how long it takes for that person to burn wearing sunscreen. So a person who turns red after 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure is theoretically protected 15 times longer if they adequately apply SPF 15. Because a lot of sunscreens rub off or don’t stay put, dermatologists advise reapplication every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

“As you get higher and higher, it’s not really a practical difference,” said Dr. David M. Pariser, the president of the American Academy of Dermatology."

Here's another excerpt from the same article:

"That’s a problem if an SPF north of 50 lulls consumers into a false sense of security. Put SPF 100 on your kids at dawn, and you might think, “Great, they are covered all day,” said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit in Washington that reviewed nearly 1,100 sunscreens in 2008. With the less-impressive-sounding SPF 30, “you might think, let’s put on a sun hat, or let’s get a T-shirt on.”

Another point to consider is the higher the number, the more harsh synthetic ingredients/chemicals that have to be added to the formula. This is why Erbaviva has chosen to remain a Natural Sunscreen and keep at SPF 15. This SPF will offer plenty of coverage with full spectrum UVA and UVB protection and is safe for both your baby and the environment.

Whichever sunscreen you choose in the end, remember to heed the advice of dermatologists and re-apply often, wear hats and protective clothing, and avoid tanning and burning.

No comments: