More isn’t always better. And when it comes to sunscreen, an SPF over 50 can actually give you a false sense of security. Just because you apply SPF 100 before heading down to the beach, doesn’t mean you won’t burn. Here’s what you need to know before you step out in the sun this weekend.
SPF 50 doesn’t provide 3x as much coverage as SPF 15.
SPF values can be confusing because the numbers don’t correlate with the percentages of protection they provide. While SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 50 filters out 98 percent. That’s only 5 percent more, and that’s if you apply thoroughly. Even SPF 100 only blocks 99 percent of UV rays; no sunscreen filters all rays. (Of course, highly photosensitive people will benefit from the highest SPF they can find.)
Higher SPFs cost more.
For many brands, the higher in SPF you go, the more expensive the sunscreen…and the minuscule protective benefit doesn’t justify it.
You still need to reapply SPF 50+ every two hours.
Who isn’t guilty of not reapplying sunscreen when you spread SPF 50 or 70 before heading outside? However, regardless of SPF, all sunscreens wear off within two hours (and even faster if you’re sweating or immersed in water). Don’t let a high SPF fool you into thinking you’re protected all day.
Read more: 6 Sunscreen Myths, Busted