Sunscreen SPF – Is It Just a Numbers Game?


Written by Jolene

Recommendations  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people use an SPF of 30 when going out into the sun for extended periods of time. For children or people with very sensitive skin, it is also recommended that on top of applying sunscreen often, you should also be using a physical barrier between you and the sun such at hats, sunglasses, shirts, etc. For how often you should reapply sunscreen you should refer to the instructions of the specific sunscreen you are using, but generally every 2-3 hours, after excessive sweating, or after swimming/towel drying. Since SPF is not a linear progression, meaning that 30 SPF does not offer double the protection that SPF15 does, when you start getting into higher SPF’s they are not worth the excessive cost that ‘promises’ you better protection. (See chart below) SPF Effectiveness When you look at a sunscreen’s SPF it is referring to the amount of protection you are going to receive from the sun’s UVB rays. The UVB rays are what causes people’s skin to burn (and suntan). Below is a simple guide to how effective each lower SPF category is in terms of blocking the sun’s UVB rays: · SPF 15, blocks 94% of the sun’s rays · SPF 30, blocks 97% of the sun’s rays · SPF 45, blocks 98% of the sun’s rays *Keep in mind that there is no sunscreen that blocks 100% of the sun’s rays. (Carpenter, Los Angeles Times)

Paying More for More “Relief” While it is not a substantial raise in cost for SPF 30 versus SPF 110 (yes that’s right Neutrogena makes an SPF 110!) it is something to consider when you are buying natural sunscreen without harmful chemicals versus one with cancer causing ingredients. Many people feel it is hard to shell out extra bucks for a natural sunscreen such as Badger Balm when it only has SPF’s of 30 and 34, when they can pay the same price if not less, for an SPF of 70-110. Be rest assured that since you only need the recommended amount of 30 SPF in order to protect yourself from UVB rays, do yourself the favor and spend the extra bucks knowing that you are not causing other problems to your family’s health. Even though Water Babies offers an SPF of 70 (and market to, well, babies/children) their ingredients are too disturbing to even think about using. Their rating is at a 7. This is because there is a moderate hazard of cancer (how ironic), and high hazards of allergies, immunotoxicity, endocrine disruptions, as well as high hazards of developmental and reproductive toxicities. Not something I would put on my baby, child, a pregnant mother, or anyone else for that matter. Water Babies are not the only brand that receives a high rating from the EWG for their dangerous ingredients used. The long list includes Neutrogena, Coppertone, Banana Boat, amongst many others, several who claim to be ‘natural’ and ‘safe’.

A Side Note on UVB vs. UVA Because UVB rating (SPF) is simply not enough to look at anymore for proper cancer prevention, the FDA has revised their labeling as of recent (2011). Companies are now not allowed to solely put the SPF number, put waterproof, sunblock, prevent wrinkles, prevent cancer, or promise complete protection from the sun. They also must warn you if the SPF is under 15, and will recommend other sun protection methods to help protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. For a look at how the FDA has changed their labels please follow the link below. It shows an example of the 2011 Final Ruling on Labeling for the front and the back. Spring 2013 marks when companies are all supposed to have the new labeling on any sunscreens coming out for consumer purchase. The only exceptions will be sunscreens that were produced before the deadline and still happen to be on shelving.

SO, WHAT DO WE RECOMMEND: BADGER: They offer several to choose from. The one I’ve used is the Baby Cream: $15.99 for 2.9 oz tube, SPF 30. Active Sunscreen Ingredient: Non-Nano, Uncoated Zinc Oxide 18.75%. Other Sunscreen Ingredients: *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, *Cera Alba (Organic Beeswax), CO2 Extracts of *Hippophae Rhamnoides (Organic Seabuckthorn), and *Calenduls Officinalis (Organic Calendula), *Anthemis Nobilis (Organic Chamomile) Essential Oil, and Tocopherol (Sunflower Vitamin E). * = Certified Organic.  Badger is available in many more food co-ops, pharmacies & stores, so for those of you who don’t like to order online this may something you like about this option. For those that like to use Amazon, here’s a link to the baby version, they offer many options!

POOFY ORGANICS: $16 for a 3.4oz tube, SPF 30, also available in stick form. Very similar to Badger, but the only complaint I’ve ever heard about Badger is it’s too thick & hard to rub in. Poofy’s is thinner & easier to apply. Ingredients: Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic Beeswax, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Camellia Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, NON-NANO Zinc Oxide. It is also available in stick form You can purchase it through my affiliate link (became an affiliate 6/15/14, after recommending the products daily for a year+), I even offer 10% off your 1st order via a rebate after the order is placed (since I can’t create my own coupon code).

Adding, Josiah’s Oils, Just Skin Food, Blue Egg Farmstore, Goddess Garden & Babo to the list, I will add a post for each as soon as I have time! **While these seem expensive, I had one tube of Badger last me all summer last year. Of course, covering up as much as possible is always the best sunscreen! My kids wear rashguard suits & hats, so they’re covered to their elbows & knees. That’s a lot less sunscreen to rub on vs if my girl was in a bikini…

Also, you may want to read this thought provoking article:

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