The 0.5% difference between SPF40 and SPF50

The 0.5% difference between SPF40 and SPF50

What is SPF and what does it protect you from?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  SPF is a measure of how much solar energy (UV radiation) is required to produce sunburn on protected skin (eg. when wearing sunscreen) relative to the amount of solar energy required to produce sunburn on unprotected skin. As the SPF value increases, sunburn protection increases!

It is important to note that SPF doesn’t measure how well sunscreen will protect you from UVA rays. UVB rays are the cause of physical sunburns, however UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with aging. Therefore, it is super important to look for a sunscreen that is states it is broad spectrum or UVA/UVB protection.

Why do we have different SPF levels?

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and sunscreens are an important component of an effective sun protection regime. Many Australians use sunscreen daily, generally over large areas of their body surface. Therefore, it is important that sunscreens used in Australia are safe, effective and of good quality. Only approved ingredients can be included in sunscreens, and each of these ingredients has been assessed for safety. TGA requires the efficacy of each sunscreen product to be tested to determine the sun protection factor (SPF), which is printed on the label.

The TGA regulates therapeutic sunscreens. These include:

  • primary sunscreens - sunscreens used for protection from UV radiation that have a rated sun protection factor (SPF) of 4 or more
  • secondary sunscreens - insect repellents with sunscreen with an SPF of 4 or more and moisturisers with sunscreen with an SPF greater than 15.

The actual difference between SPF40 & SPF50

We get asked this question all of the time! The difference between a SPF 40 is you block out 97.5% of UVB radiation and SPF 50 blocks 98%. This is a very small difference for the cost of purchasing a SPF 50. More important than using a super high SPF is using enough sunscreen.   

The graph below highlights the 0.5% difference between SPF40 & SPF50  


98% protection is better than 97.5%, but you have to consider other factors of the sunscreen and look past the marketing scheme. For example and all-natural SPF40 sunscreen that is 2 hour water resistant with 97.5% sun protection for those full 2 hours can protect and hydrate your skin where as a chemically based cheap product with 60+ SPF may be doing more harm to your skin than good.

There is often a false sense of security with higher numbers. You think since you’re wearing a higher level, you are invincible to the sun, and that’s just not the case. Most of us also forget that SPF is only at its most active for about two hours, so you need to reapply it often.

“An SPF 30 sunscreen applied properly will give better protection than an SPF 50 sunscreen applied too thinly.”

TGA regulation of sunscreen

The TGA sunscreen testing is very intricate. For example, SPF testing is highly specialised and requires human subjects. All therapeutic sunscreens must meet mandatory requirements for:

  • Labelling
  • Advertising
  • Testing
  • Ingredients

Sunscreens sold in Australia must be manufactured by a TGA approved manufacturing facility and can only include TGA approved ingredients – each of which has been individually assessed for safety.

Exciting news!

Grahams Natural Alternatives Sunclear is coming back to the shelves this summer!

SunClear Natural SPF 40 Sunscreen (vegan) uses microfine zinc oxide with no chemical UVA / UVB filters. We get asked all the time about the whitening effect of Zinc on the skin, well we are excited to say that SunClear goes on the skin clear! We also have one of the best formulas on the market as do not use water in our formulation, we are preservative free and we only use ingredients that helps to protect you from the suns harsh rays. SunClear is 2 hours water resistant so you can be in the water for up to 2 hours and still be protected. This formula is especially developed for those with sensitive, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and it suitable for all ages.

Sunclear benefits:

  • Vegan
  • Reef Friendly
  • 2 hrs water resistant
  • Suitable for the entire family
  • No water in our formulation
  • UVA & UVB Broad Spectrum Protection
  • Suitable for sensitive, eczema and rosacea prone skin