MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Consumer Report out this week says nearly half of sunscreens they tested failed to meet their SPF claims.
They tested and rated more than 60 lotions, sprays and sticks with SPF claims of 30 or more, and 28 of them fell short. One advertised as SPF 50 tested at an SPF eight.
But dermatologist Dr. Jaime Davis of Uptown Dermatology says the study is misleading.
“It’s not that people are misreporting the SPF levels,” she said.
Davis says in a lab with controlled circumstances, sunscreens will perform one way. Put them on a kid who’s running in and out of the lake and sweating, and they likely won’t perform the same.
“You’re going to get a different level of performance. So that article just reminds us that we really have to be careful how we use sunscreen,” Davis said.
To get the most coverage from your SPF, Davis says it’s all about application.
“It didn’t alarm me. It just reminds us all to follow the very basics with good sunscreen application,” she said.
Davis recommends using a broad spectrum that covers UVA and UVB, applying an hour before exposure and reapplying every couple of hours and after getting out of the water.
“And there are alternatives to sunscreen too, hats and shirts that have built-in SPF,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about those wearing off.”
While Davis advocates for avoiding damaging exposure, she says it’s OK to have fun in the sun.
“Don’t waste time in a tanning bed or laying out just for the sake of the tan,” Davis said. “Let the tan be a side effect of the fact that you had fun at the beach that day.”
As for the Consumer Report, Davis says don’t disregard the importance of sunscreen, regardless of what a study may say.
“The last thing we want is for people to think that sunscreens don’t work,” she said. “They work. We need to use them correctly.”
When reapplying, Davis suggests using a sunscreen with a chemical and a physical block in it, like a zinc oxide. She says the chemical block takes an hour to be effective and the physical block will cover you during that time.