Here’s a new video that covers what SPF means, and debunks a couple of SPF myths:
- Why SPF doesn’t mean how many times longer you can stay in the sun
- Why higher SPF is more effective (and not just 1% more effective)
I’ve talked about the first myth before in this post on SPF and UV index, but I haven’t really talked about the “SPF 50 is only 1% better than SPF 30” myth before, except as an aside in my post on the relationship between SPF and the amount of sunscreen applied. It’s a myth that’s widespread, even amongst dermatologists, according to this open access paper from JAMA Dermatology (DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.4924).
I also cover how SPF changes with the amount of sunscreen applied, and other things to consider apart from SPF in the video. Check it out here!
Studies on High SPF Sunscreen
These are the studies on using higher SPF sunscreens. Both of these are open access, so anyone can see them without a paywall! It really emphasises that the “high SPF sunscreens are only marginally better” myth doesn’t play out in reality, with sunscreens in actual use. Check them out:
- Russak JE et al. A comparison of sunburn protection of high-sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreens: SPF 85 sunscreen is significantly more protective than SPF 50 (open access), J Am Acad Dermatol 2010, 62, 348–349. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2009.05.025
- Williams JD et al, SPF 100+ sunscreen is more protective against sunburn than SPF 50+ in actual use: Results of a randomized, double-blind, split-face, natural sunlight exposure clinical trial (open access), J Am Acad Dermatol 2018, 78, 902–910. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.12.062
Related videos and posts
I have a lot of videos and blog posts on sunscreen, if you want to learn more! Here’s just a small selection:
- Chemical vs Physical Sunscreens: The Science (with video)
- Video: How Much Sunscreen Do You Need For Your Face?
- How SPF Changes With How Much Sunscreen You Use
- What Does SPF Mean? The Science of Sunscreen
- Fact-check: Don’t Get Burnt by DIY Sunscreen
If you’re wondering why I talk about sunscreen so much, it’s because it’s regulated as a cancer-prevention drug in many places in the world, so there’s a lot of research on it! Most other skincare products have slim pickings, so it’s much harder to make clear statements on their effectiveness and how to use them.
Also, I would say that it’s THE most important product in your routine for anti-aging, and basically all your anti-aging serums are useless without it – unless you use sunscreen, it’s like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a hill, and a lot of anti-aging products will make your skin more susceptible to sun damage so you may end up doing more damage to your skin in the long run.
(If you want a full guide on choosing and using sunscreens, and a summary of the filters, you might be interested in the Lab Muffin Guide to Basic Skincare – there’s a chapter on sunscreen in there!)