It can be confusing for consumers seeing some sunscreens labelled as SPF100 because SPF50+ is the highest sunscreen rating available in Australia. So, what is the difference between the two?
ARPANSA is the Australian Government Agency responsible for protecting the public and workers from radiation exposure. ARPANSA confirms that a SPF50+ is the highest sunscreen rating for sunscreens available in Australia.
SPF50+ rating means that at least 98% of UVR (ultraviolet radiation) which includes both UVA and UVB radiation is blocked. It is important to note that SPF50+ means at least 98% of UVR is blocked i.e. 98% is the minimum amount of UVR that needs to be blocked to attain this rating.
In the USA, sunscreens can be rated up to SPF100 which means that 99% of UVR are blocked. So, SPF100 confirms that 99% of UVR whereas SPF50+ confirms that at least 98% of UVR is blocked.
It is no wonder that regulators and consumer advocacy groups felt that this is confusing for consumers at best and probably misleading at worst.
Some consumers understandably believe that SPF100 provides double the amount of protection than SPF50+. This is not true at all. At best and by definition, SPF100 sunscreen is 1% more effective than SPF50+.
In 2019, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) proposed that the highest sunscreen rating be capped at SPF60+ in the USA because of concerns about sunscreens with higher ratings (than SPF60+) were lulling consumers into a false sense of protection. The FDA stated that there is a lack of data showing that sunscreens with SPF values above 60 provide additional clinical benefit”.
In summary, regulatory authorities in the USA are concerned that sunscreens with an SPF above 50 encourage people to spend more time exposed to the sun because they think they are getting materially more protection which is not the case.
Solbari Sun Protection offers an award-winning range of UPF50+ sun protective clothing, UPF 50+ broad brim sun hats, UV blocking accessories and SPF50+ sunscreens.
Empowering everyone to lead a sun smart life.