Verify: Are higher SPF levels more effective?

KREM 2's Amanda Roley looks into sunscreen to verify if higher SPFs mean more coverage.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- With the weather staying pretty hot it is important to keep that sunscreen handy.

In fact, many people are tweeting and posting on Facebook about sunscreen. But there seems to be various opinions on what SPF rating you should use to protect our skin. Some people even joke about slabbing on SPF 500.

When you have gone shopping for sunscreen, you may have come across several products with various levels of SPF ratings: 30, 50 and even as high as 100. To verify if SPF 100 is really much better than 30, KREM 2 talked to Julie Taylor with the Spokane Dermatology Clinic.

"The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30 or greater every single day of the year on sun exposed areas of the skin," said Taylor.

Sun protection factor ratings refer to the ability of a sunscreen to block UVB rays. Taylor said once you get higher than 30 to 45 SPF it becomes overkill.

"At SPF 30 you're protecting your skin from 96 percent of the harmful rate. So by doubling it to 60 you're not doubling the protection and by tripling it to 120 you're not going to triple the protection," Taylor explained.

Taylor said it is because there is only a slight change in the percentage of protection. SPF 30 protects you against about 96 percent of harmful rays, 45 SPF gives you 97 percent and 60 SPF gives you 98.

"Don't pay a huge price for a small benefit," Taylor said.

She has a point because the 100 SPF sunscreen KREM 2 bought cost $10.50 whereas and you would save a few bucks buying SPF 50 or 30.  However, Taylor said there are cases where 100 SPF sunscreen would be needed.

"If you have a special need like Albinism or if you have vitiligo where your system doesn't provide any natural protection, you want to get as much coverage and protection as you can get," she explained.

KREM 2 can verify, if you go beyond 30 to 45 SPF there really is not much difference in your protection from the sun, unless you have sensitive skin. However, what you should be worried about is if you have a sunscreen bottle from last year. You should throw it out because it expires after a year.

Verify: Sources

  • Julie Taylor with the Spokane Dermatology Clinic

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© 2017 KREM-TV


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