Study says 43% of sunscreens do not meet SPF claims

Study Says Sunscreen Lies About SPF

Companies have gotten bolder in their marketing campaigns, but how accurate are their eye-catching claims? A study published in the July 2016 Consumer Reports reveals 43% of waterproof sunscreens do not provide the SPF coverage listed on the bottle once they become wet. 

The testing process

The team applied 65 different waterproof sunscreens as directed to a set of volunteers. These individuals then soaked in water before being exposed to UV light to determine the SPF level of the lotion. 

The results

While some products claim to become more effective following water exposure, all remained the same or become less effective. Four out of 10 sunscreens fell short of the number printed on the bottle after the volunteers’ skin became wet. Two children’s sunscreen products with an SPF protection of 50 were revealed to only have an SPF of 8 after water exposure. 

The study also revealed that chemical sunscreen works more effectively than mineral based or all-natural sunscreen on average, although the team is careful not to discredit their use entirely. It remains true that these products may cause less irritation to sensitive skin. 

“Here at the Swedish Skin Institute, we always recommend our patients use a combination of a natural block sunscreen and a chemical block sunscreen,” said Emily Rubenstein, D.O., a dermatologist at the Swedish Skin Institute. “When choosing a physical block sunscreen, I suggest choosing one with a zinc base rather than titanium. Zinc-based sunscreen blocks most UVA and UVB rays and is better for sensitive skin.” 

How to beat the odds

Regardless of what sunscreen you choose to use, follow these guidelines:

“The most important thing is reapplication,” said Dr. Rubenstein, D.O. “Most problems of overexposure occur when individuals do not use enough sunscreen or fail to reapply. You should reapply sunscreen before the time that the label suggests, and always after getting wet. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen or a ‘healthy’ tan.”
Emily Rubenstein, D.O., is a board-certified dermatologist with Swedish Medical group. She treats adults and children with a wide range of medical and cosmetic skin concerns. Her services include treatments for chronic skin conditions, laser hair removal, peels, skin tightening, photorejuvenation,
laser resurfacing, Botox, injectable fillers and a full line of specialty products.

For an appointment with Dr. Rubenstein at the Swedish Skin Institute, please call 773-293-8893.


By David Modica | Published May 31, 2016

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