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Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association

June 2010, Volume 2 Number 3 , p 135 - 137


  • Jennifer Kwinter


Russak, J. E., Chen, T., Appa, Y., & Rigel, D. S. (2010). A comparison of sunburn protection of high-sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreens: SPF 85 sunscreen is significantly more protective than SPF 50. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 62(2), 348-349.The increased incidence of skin cancer and heightened awareness of the dangers of sun exposure have led to an emerging interest in finding the most effective ways to protect ourselves and prevent sun damage. In addition to sun avoidance, sunscreens are often recommended to patients as one of the most effective methods of sun protection. However, it remains unclear exactly which sun protection factor (SPF) level provides optimal protection. It has long been debated whether additional benefit is obtained from wearing sunscreens with an SPF greater than 30 and therefore whether these higher SPFs should be recommended by healthcare professionals.The authors of this study conducted a double-blind, randomized clinical study to evaluate whether a statistically significant difference exists between the sunburn protective effects of an SPF 50 sunscreen versus an SPF 85 formulation. Fifty-eight participants applied an SPF 50 sunscreen to half of their face and an SPF 85 sunscreen to the other half. They had an average outdoor exposure time of 5 hours without reapplying any sunscreen and were evaluated by a dermatologist (blinded to the application sides) the following day.The results of the study demonstrated that additional protection was obtained from an SPF 85 sunscreen compared with an SPF 50 sunscreen. Eight participants had clinically apparent erythema on the SPF 50 side (p =.03), and only 1 had erythema on the SPF 85 and the SPF 50 side. The study also showed a preference for the higher SPF. When asked to express a preference by side of application, 29 participants preferred the SPF 85 side versus 6 participants who preferred the SPF 50 side; 21 participants had no SPF preference (p =.007).REMARK: The

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