Does strength or a higher SPF sunscreen really matter?
Unfortunately, the majority of consumers do not apply enough sunscreen. So no level of SPF sunscreen is going to work if first, it is not applied or even reapplied. However, if someone is only going to apply sunscreen once then we can argue that at least a higher SPF will offer some margin of safety since the sunscreen was higher, to begin with. The second factor to consider is using a sunscreen that will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Remember, UVA is responsible for deeper sun damage (photo-aging), of the skin, while the UVB rays are responsible for sunburns. So even more important than a higher SPF sunscreen is finding a sunscreen that will protect for both UVA and UVB rays.
In my personal opinion, it is always important to apply sunscreen. Studies have been tried and shown to be true that UVA and UVB rays are the underlying cause for aging skin and skin cancers. If you are going to purchase a sunscreen with a higher SPF this doesn’t mean you only apply it once. It only means it may protect you longer but you should still reapply- every 2 hours especially when engaging in outdoor activities. Also, purchase a sunscreen that you are going to use. There’s no sense in buying something that you know you don’t like to begin with. An SPF of at least 30 is always my go to. Finally, taking additional measures such as a hat and protective clothing will assure you some added protection especially when outdoors and if you know you are not in a place where you can reapply
Consumer Reports. (2015). What does SPF stand for? Understanding how sunscreen works helps you get the best protection. Obtained from the website: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/05/what-does-spf-stand-for/index.htm.
Epstein, J.H., Wang, S.Q. (2013). UVA &UVB. Obtained from the Skin Cancer Foundation website: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/uva-and-uvb.
Wang, S.Q. (2010). Ask the Expert: Does a higher- SPF (sun protective factor) sunscreen always protect your skin better? Obtained from the Skin Cancer Foundation website: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/does-a-higher-spf-sunscreen-always-protect-your-skin-better.