What you need to know about sunscreen safety

Posted at 11:16 AM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 13:16:41-04

NEW YORK – There’s been a debate for years about whether using sunscreen over SPF 50 really makes a difference. Now a new study suggests you may want to go higher for better protection.

First-time mom Jessica Goldstein keeps 5-month-old Eloise out of the sun as much as possible, "I want to make sure she’s completely protected. I don’t want her to get any kind of skin cancer."

Some people find choosing a sunscreen overwhelming with so many options, but new research suggests higher SPF sunscreens may be your best bet to avoid sunburn.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that SPF 100 was more protective than SPF 50.

"This was a real-use study, where people actually used it instead of testing it in a lab. Because people under-apply sunscreen, the higher SPF is more-forgiving," said Dr. Darrell Rigel, one of the study’s authors. "And that’s really what the advantage was for the average user, if they put on a little less or skimp or a little bit, they’re still getting strong protection."
Researchers compared SPF 50 versus 100 on skiers in Colorado and found the SPF 50 side of the face was 11 times more likely to burn compared to the SPF 100 side. Dr. Rigel advises choosing a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher.

"You want to look for the words broad spectrum because that means it protects ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays.  You want something that’s water resistant 80 minutes. That’s the maximum of protection," Dr. Rigel explained.

But Goldstein chooses shade over the sun, "As I got older and started understanding what could happen I realized I need to be putting on sunscreen."

Dermatologists also recommend re-applying sunscreen at least every two hours.

The study was funded by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.