People Confused About Sunscreen
Most people don't understand what the labels on bottles of sunscreen are saying, according to a study at Northwestern University. Fewer than half of the people surveyed, for instance, understood the meaning of sun factor protection of SFP.
Sunscreens with SPF help protect the skin from ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays. UV-B rays are the main cause of sunburns. However, research has shown that both ultraviolet A (UV-A) and UV-B can contribute to premature skin aging and skin cancers. So, in 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new regulations for sunscreen labels to emphasize the importance of 'broad spectrum protection' sunscreen that protects the skin from both UV-A and UV-B rays.
Researchers, however, found that the majority of people aren’t really aware of what protections they would be getting when purchasing a sunscreen. When they surveyed 114 participants in the study, about three-fourths said they did so to prevent sunburn, while two-thirds said they wanted to prevent skin cancer.
But the study participants also said the top factors in helping them make decisions about which sunscreen to buy was the SPF number, whether the sunscreen was suitable for sensitive skin and whether it was water and sweat resistant. That, according to the researchers, suggested that people had become too focused on the SPF number, which doesn't guarantee the most effective overall protection.
When study participants were shown another sunscreen label where UV-A protection was designated as a star rating (out of four stars) and UV-B protection as an SPF value, nearly 80 percent were able to determine the level of UV-A protection and close to 90 percent could determine UV-B protection. The researchers believe this approach could help make people more knowledgeable about which sunscreen really provides the besst overall protection.