SPF protection seems like a no brainer - the higher the number, the more protection you have against the sun’s harmful rays. However, there are many factors that can affect how much protection you are actually getting. We get a lot of questions at Tropical Sands about why SPF 50 is the highest sun defense that we offer. To answer that, here are 3 things that you probably didn’t know about SPF 50.
Not all SPF 50 sunscreens are the same.
Chemical and mineral sunscreens with 50 SPF are not actually equal. That’s because chemical sunscreens are protecting only against UVB rays (the ones that cause sunburn) and neglecting UVA. Mineral sunscreens, like Tropical Sands, block both UVA and UVB rays from touching the skin’s surface. So while both types of sunscreen may claim to be SPF 50, only mineral sunscreen is protecting against both types of sun rays.
Many high-SPF products are not actually high-SPF.
Sunscreens boasting an SPF higher than 50 may be misleading. Small changes in thickness of application or distance from the sun may have a significant impact on the protection provided by sunscreens. In the most perfect conditions, the sunscreen may have SPF of 100, but the real world rarely mimics those environments.
The FDA does not recognize SPF higher than 50.
A common assumption is that SPF 100 provides double the protection than SPF 50. In reality, SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of rays while SPF 100 blocks 99 percent. No product offers 100% protection against harm from the sun, which means that no matter how high the SPF gets over 50, it only protects marginally better. Because of this, the FDA considers SPF higher than 50 to be “inherently misleading” and does not allow higher-SPF labeling.