Living at the beach, my mom has always shoved the idea of wearing sunscreen all the time is super important. Not only for preventing skin cancer but just taking of my skin in general. Whenever I come home from the beach with the back of my legs absolutely fried she gets pissed. She gets even more pissed when my face gets burned. I always argue back with her telling her I used sunscreen, but she never believes me. One day she bought me SPF 75 and I told her I wouldn’t use it because it was “too strong” and would prevent me from getting tan. But then I heard that any SPF after 30 is basically the same as 30, so I decided to google and research around what the actual differences in levels of SPF are.
According to dermatologist James M. Spencer, the SPF 30 can block up to 97% UVB rays whereas the SPF 15 can block up to 94% of UVB rays. You would of thought that there would be more of a difference since 30 doubles 15 but really there is only a 3% difference. There is also only an additional 1% difference between SPF 45 and 30, since SPF 45 only blocks about 98% of UVB rays. After seeing the minute differences in coverage between the SPF’s I insisted that my SPF 30 would work just the same as the 75 she bought me. Especially after reading the part of the article where Spencer even recommends his patients in his dermatologist office to use SPF 30.
Most people think that using a higher SPF is better for you, but expert Dr. Wang has found that there are actually disadvantages to using products with very high SPF’s. For example, SPF’s of 50 or higher contain higher UVA protection. UVA protection is important, but when you have too much of it actually accelerates skin aging and can even cause skin cancers. In the short run, using high SPF’s may be beneficial to not getting a sunburn, but in the long run they increase the amount of skin-damaging radiation to your body than lower SPF’s.
My friends and I go to the beach almost every day in the summer and this past summer all of us girls tried to get as tan as we could since we were all going off to colleges in cold places. We applied sunscreen but then applied loads of tanning oil over it. I’ve always wondered if tanning oil actually worked or if it was more of a placebo effect; telling myself that I was getting more tan by applying more tanning oil.
Tanning oil attracts and focuses the UV rays of the sun onto your skin. The key to tanning oil is that it accelerates the process of the skin receiving the UV rays which then speed up the melanocyte’s ability to make melanin. The more melanin present in your skin, the tanner you will look, which is obviously what people want. But most people don’t know the dangers of tanning oil. Since most tanning oils consist of about SPF level 4, UV radiation have more access to damaging your skin cells and cause mutations in cell’s structure leading to skin cancer.
Next summer, I think I’ll lay low on the tanning oil and stick with SPF 30.