When you travel, your skin is exposed to the harmful UV rays which are not good for your skin. You can not reduce or dim the sunlight, but you can always be prepared for these rays. The preparation means applying sunscreen lotions. If you are a suntan fan, let me just tell you its too harmful for your skin. This article will tell you everything you need to know about sunscreens and their SPF. A few companies claim that higher SPF is better for protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Do you also think so? If yes, keep reading.

What Is Sunscreen?

Sunscreens are simply the lotions or creams that reflect UV rays from our skin and help in protecting our skin against the damage caused by the sun. Sunscreens are often measured on the basis of SPF which is the sun protection factor. The role of SPF is to measure the fraction of UV protection the sunscreen provides.

History Of Sunscreens

Earlier plant extracts were used to protect the skin from the sun damage. Ancient Greeks used rice extracts, jasmine and lupine plant extracts to avoid UV radiations from the skin. Apart from these magical ingredients, zinc oxide paste was also be used for skin protection from the sun. Zinc oxide still is being used in the sunscreen lotions for skin protection.

The first sunscreen was invented by the chemist Franz Greiter. He called it the Glacier cream. This cream had a sun protection Factor (SPF) of 2. Greiter in 1946 developed it with the help of his wife Marga who was a trained beautician. Since then Piz Buin is one of the leading brands manufacturing sun protection products. The company now not only provides sunscreen lotions but also products like sun mousse, sun spray, Piz Buin wet skin and tan products.

Why Is SPF Important?

Sun Protection Factor is a measure of UV light getting absorbed or reflected from the skin. 15, 30 and 50 SPF are the ones that are usually used.

SPF 15 blocks 93% of the UV rays, 30 blocks 97% of the UV rays. SPF 50 blocks 98% of the UV rays. 

So technically, SPF 15 only allows 7 photons through your skin while SPF 30 allows only 3 photons.

Does more SPF equal to More Protection?

Companies that sell SPF 70 and SPF 100 are completely bluffing with you. SPF 70 and SPF 100 do not provide more protection than SPF 50. But since you spend your money on something that says, “Stay in the sun as much as you want to, you are protected”, you tend to believe that and stay in the sun longer. Eventually resulting in sunburn and rashes, in worst cases, cancer.

Here Is What You Need To Know About Higher SPF

The two types of UV rays; UV-A and UV-B are responsible for causing skin damages. UV-A goes a little deeper in the skin and causes much higher damage like skin ageing and even skin cancer while UV-B is responsible for sunburns.

The Truth About High SPF

  • SPF allows a few photons to enter the skin and the rest of the UV rays are reflected back. Companies that claim that SPF 70 and 100 provide you 100% protection are not saying what they should, THE TRUTH.
  • SPF 100 only provides a marginally better shielding from UV-B radiations. SPF 30 as I told you blocks 97% of the rays, and SPF 50 blocks 98%, SPF 100 blocks 99% of the UV rays. This is not a significant difference.
  • So in case, you are planning to buy a sunscreen of SPF 100 and planning to stay in the sun for all day long, well, DON’T!

In 2011, The FDA called the sunscreens with SPF more than 50, “misleading”

How High Is The High SPF??

Procter and Gamble tested a competitor’s SPF 100 product in five different laboratories. The results after the experiment said that even SPF 100 provided as much protection as SPF 37 to SPF 75.

The company said that even a small difference in testing conditions can have a high incluence on the SPF. P&G in a letter to FDA warned, that the UV tests in laboratory vary from what the conditions are in the real world. They concluded by saying that the SPF values should be rounded off to 50. They also said that the values above SPF 50 can be misleading to the customers and they might end up buying the wrong product for themselves.

Research Behind SPF and Sunbathers

Consumers rely on the product completely and tend to stay in the sun for longer and hence overexpose their skin to UV-A and UV-B rays. Philippe Autier, a scientist formally with the World Health Organisation International Agency For Research on Cancer has conducted multiple experiments and studies on sunbathers and resulted in saying that the Europeanvacationers spend more time in the sun if given SPF 30 over SPF 10. With a result the production of melanin increased in a few cases.

You Only Get Protection From UV-B Rays

Another major downside is that the products having higher SPF protect you from UV-B but not very well from UV-A rays which leads to UV-A getting deposited in the skin.

To ensure that you are protected from both the rays, you need to check the ingredients. Ingredients like avobenzone or at least 15% zinc oxide. Both these ingredients block UV-A rays.

Choose your product wisely, don’t let the leading companies mislead you . Because they are big doesn’t mean they sell relevant products. Check and buy the skin care products. Check your skin type and see what suits your skin the best. Test the product before use.

Also let me know in the comments section if you have been a buyer for higher SPF and do you feel any difference at all.

Also read: Skin care tips during summer travel



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