The importance of wearing SPF daily has been ingrained in us since we were kids. From SPF-infused moisturizers to sweat-proof sunblock, there are many ways to protect our skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
However, not all sun protection is created equal. While you might assume that the higher the SPF, the better the protection, this isn’t always the case.
As for all of that SPF 100 you sun-savvy readers have stocked up on? Not only is it a waste of money, but it could also be dangerous.
The Higher The SPF, The Better, Right?
According to the EWG, the answer is no. First, SPF (Sun Protection Factor) describes how well the sunscreen protects against UVB rays only. Check your bottle for “broad spectrum” to ensure you’re getting protection from both UVB and UVA rays.
And as it turns out, there’s only a marginal difference the higher the label. For example, SPF 50 protects against 98 percent of UV rays, while SPF 100 protects against 99 percent. This single percentage represented as a doubled SPF gives users a false sense of security (emphasis on false).
The EWG adds that this sense of security causes many users to apply SPF 100 improperly, opting not to reapply throughout the day because of their “increased protection.” Moreover, SPF 100 sunscreens often contain higher concentrations of chemicals.
The organization concludes that SPF-rated sunscreens between 30 and 50 provide adequate protection for even those with sensitive skin. Here are a few of my favorite SPF 50 sunscreens. If used correctly (read: reapplied every 60-80 minutes), these sunblocks protect the skin against burns, UV damage, and sun-related skin disorders.
1. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Natural Spray SPF 50
One of my favorite SPF 50 sunscreens is Australian Gold’s Botanical Natural Sunscreen Spray. The formula is rich in antioxidants and gentle on the skin while still being powerful enough to block UVA and UVB rays.
Thanks to the subtly beachy Citrus Oasis scent, you can wear this sunscreen anytime and anywhere. You’ll smell light and refreshing instead of smelling like you just got back from the pool.
2. EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen Lotion
When I know I’ll be especially active outdoors, I opt for a water-resistant sunscreen like EltaMD’s UV Sport Sunscreen Lotion. Whether I’m biking, hiking, swimming, or even outdoor window shopping, I know this sweat-proof sunblock will keep me covered.
EltaMD’s sunscreen lotion doesn’t drip into the eyes or wipe off with the first bead of sweat. And because it’s fragrance-free, you don’t have to worry about rocking a funky mix of B.O. and bananas while you enjoy your outdoor activities.
3. Hawaiian Tropic SPF 50 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
Hawaiian Tropic’s SPF 50 sunscreen also deserves a spot on my go-to sunblock list. I love this particular block because of how easy it is to find at a local drugstore. So, I never have to worry about going without when I inevitably forget my sunscreen while out of town.
This reef-friendly, cruelty-free sunscreen is a blast from the past. The iconic coconut smell transports me back to my younger days (when I ironically cared way less about sun protection).