Sunscreen lotion with an SPF of 100 protected skin better from UV rays than shade from beach umbrellas, according to study results published in JAMA Dermatology.
“Some widely used shading devices, such as beach umbrellas, may have high UV protection factor ratings but do not protect skin from UV rays whose angles of approach are diffused by atmospheric particles or reflected from the ground,” the researchers wrote. “People often assume that their skin is fully protected as long as they are under the shade of an umbrella.”
The study was conducted between Aug. 13 and 15, 2014, at Lake Lewisville, Texas. Eighty-one participants were randomly assigned into a sunscreen group (n = 41) using an SPF of 100 (Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF 100+) or an umbrella group (n = 40). There were 56 women and 25 men with a mean age of 41 years.
The umbrella group’s sunburn score increased from baseline 0 to 0.75 (P < .001) and the sunscreen group’s score increased from 0 to 0.05 (P = .002). The increase was significant for all body sites in the umbrella group, but only significant for the face in the sunscreen group (0.18 vs. 0; P = .02).
The umbrella group had 142 sunburned areas compared with 17 in the sunscreen group. Thirty-two participants in the umbrella group showed erythema in one or more sites, while only 10 of the participants in the sunscreen group showed similar rates.
“Although the SPF 100 sunscreen was more efficacious than the umbrella, neither method alone prevented sunburn completely under actual use conditions, highlighting the importance of using combinations of sun protection practices to optimize protection against UV rays,” the researchers concluded. – by Talitha Bennett
: Ou-Yang and Meyer report being employees of Johnson & Johnson Consumer, the parent company of Neutrogena and manufacturer of the sunscreen tested in this study. Please see the full study for the other researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.