Does SPF Matter?


You have probably been to the drug store to pick up sun screen and been overwhelmed with the various brands, types and sun protective factor rating (SPF). Which one to pick?

Recently there has been more discussion surrounding SPF, particularly some folks who think it doesn’t matter which SPF you select.

I believe SPF DOES matter. In fact, I suggest using the highest SPF sun screen, and here’s why:

The Sun Protective Factor is an index that is directly related to how much ultraviolet radiation passes through the sun screen. Ultraviolet radiation is responsible for skin cancer and sun damage. To determine the SPF on the label, the FDA requires 2 grams of sun screen per cm2. That means to achieve that SPF on your skin you virtually have to use an entire tube of sun screen! You might as well just smear Desitin all over… just kidding.

The average person uses about a quarter of the recommended amount. Studies show that the amount of sunscreen applied exponentially affects the actual protection you get. What does this mean?

If you use an SPF 30 and apply 25% of the recommended amount, you are actually getting an SPF of 5. If you use an SPF of 70, then you would probably get an SPF of 25. That’s a significant difference!

So the next time you face a spectrum of SPFs, go with the higher one and enjoy being outside and safe in the sun. And remember, be sure to reapply every hour.

Stay tuned about tanning beds next!