Sunscreen- SPF and Strengths


So I am often asked, “What is the best strength of sunscreen?” “Does the strength of sunscreen really matter at all, or are the stronger strengths just there as a gimmick for people to pay more?”

These are very good questions especially since there is so much hype on sun protection. With a ton of choices ranging from different brands to different strengths, it’s no wonder it can become confusing and feel somewhat deceptive on the marketing and media industries. I would have to answer this question in two parts: What does SPF even mean and then; why are there so many different available strengths, and yes, does it even matter?

SPF- Sun Protection Factor

To understand SPF, first, we understand ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays are the type of light that reaches the earth from the sun that is invisible to the naked eye. For simplification purposes, I will refer to these wavelengths as they are classified -UVA and UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB rays will penetrate the atmosphere and can contribute to conditions such as premature skin aging and skin cancers. Read more about SPF- Sun Protection Factor

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. Read more about Does strength or a higher SPF sunscreen really matter?