Katie from Paddington, New South Wales, Australia asked:

Does SPF50+ sunscreen give more protection than SPF30+?

Putting on spf50 sunscreen

I read in the newspaper about SPF50+ sunscreens coming to Australian markets. Should we throw away our SPF30+ products and stock up on SPF50+ sunscreen for increased protection in the sun?

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Our answer

As of November 2012, Australian sunscreen manufacturers are allowed to make and advertise SPF50+ sunscreens. Despite the introduction of these new products with a higher SPF rating, there is no need to get rid of your current SPF30+ sunscreens, providing they are broad spectrum, water-resistant and not passed their expiry date. Though this may seem like a big difference in SPF numbers on the label, the new SPF50+ sunscreens will only offer marginally better protection from UVB radiation, which causes sunburn and adds to skin cancer risk, than SPF30+. SPF30+ sunscreens filter about 96.7% of UV radiation, SPF50+ sunscreens provide only marginally better protection at 98%. Therefore, it is important to note that while offering slightly better protection, SPF50+ products are not a “suit of armour” against the dangers of the sun. Sunscreen is an important sun protection measure, but should not be used as the first or only line of defence against ultraviolet radiation. Always re-apply sunscreen every two hours and use in conjunction with other sun protection measures: limiting time outdoors during peak UV times, using shade and wearing protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.

This page was last updated on: November 16, 2012
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