What does SPF50 mean? Well, on a bottle of sunscreen spray SPF50, it means that it will allow you to remain out in the sun 50x longer than you would if you didn’t have it on. The trouble is that many people take these numbers a little too literally when they’re working out what level of protection it is that they provide.
It’s natural to assume that an SPF50 product would give you around 1½x to 2x more protection, but in reality, that’s not the case. With this in mind, we now look at the facts when it comes to SPF ratings.
Sunscreen Spray SPF50 Is Not 2x More Protective
While SPF relates to time spent in the sun without burning, it doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to the number of UV rays that it protects you from. You see, while a sunscreen spray SPF50 protects you against 99% of the sun’s rays, an SPF30 will protect you from almost as many – 97% in fact.
Take a step further down to SPF 15 and you would expect that to offer around half that of an SPF30 – at least that’s the general consensus within the public. The truth is quite different, as you’re still going to be protected from as much as 94% of UV rays.
As we can see, these numbers don’t really relate to much when it comes to choosing sunscreens with the best coverage. All it tends to do is elongate the amount of time you can spend in the sun without burning.
A False Sense of Security
As such, when people buy SPF50 products, they often get a false sense of security, thinking that they’re getting more protection than they are. Sometimes, this results in people slapping it on at the beginning of the day and thinking that’s going to protect them against sun damage for 6-7 hours.
No matter what SPF-rated product you go for, you still have to apply the stuff every two hours that you’re outside. You only get that 50x protection from an SPF50 if it’s reapplied at the end of each 2-hour period. This is particularly true when talking about SPF 100 products – with some people translating what it offers as 100% protection against the sun. This kind of mistake can lead to horrible nights with your skin glowing and aftersun that’s only slightly bringing down the heat. The fact of the matter is that the differences between the different SPFs are much smaller than people give them credit for.
Regardless of the situation, 2 hour reapplications will keep you safe no matter what strength of sunscreen you’re using. So, remember to do so or you might end up regretting it.
Using Sunscreen Spray SPF50, 30 or 15? Read the Label!
Your takeaway from reading our article about SPF ratings is that you shouldn’t take the numbers you see too literally, as they relate to different things. And while an SPF100 will allow you to stay out in the sun for 100x longer and not get burnt, this is on the proviso that you reapply as directed.
In fact, a good rule of thumb to use is to always read the label and remember that you get very similar levels of UV protection with all strengths. If you want to be extra sure that you and your family won’t get burnt, then, of course, get a product with a higher SPF rating.
However, don’t assume that you get protection you don’t when wearing an SPF 50 or 100. You still need to respect the sun and you still have to apply it every two hours. Everything else, well it’s academic.
Sunscreen is just one form of protection from the sun. Check out the infographic below for other tips to keep your loved ones safe from the sun!
Infographic provided by Halter Ego, a horse riding gear company