Under-application requires higher SPF in sunscreen, according to new study

For years, there has been debate about whether using sunscreen over SPF 50 really makes a difference.
Now a new study suggests you may want to go higher for better protection.

Some people find choosing a sunscreen overwhelming with so many options. Now a new research suggests higher SPF sunscreens may be your best bet to avoid sunburn.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that SPF 100 was more protective than SPF 50. Dr. Darrell Rigel is one of the study's authors. "This was a real-use study, where people actually used it instead of testing it in a lab," said Rigel. "Because people under-apply sunscreen, the higher SPF is more-forgiving.  And that's really what the advantage was, for the average user, if they put on a little less or skimp or a little bit, they're still getting strong protection.

Researchers compared SPF 50 versus 100 on skiers in Colorado. The study found the SPF 50 side of the face was 11 times more likely to burn compared to the SPF 100 Side. Dr. Rigel advises choosing a sunscreen that's SPF 30 or higher.

"You want to look for the words 'broad spectrum,'" says Rigel. "Because that means it protects ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. You want something that's water resistant - 80 minutes. That's the maximum of protection."

The study was funded by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Dermatologists also recommend re-applying sunscreen at least every two hours.