We Are Sunshine

SPF claims hit triple digits, and the whole world is laughing.

Monday, May 18th, 2009

MAY 15, 2009 – Multibillion-dollar cosmecuetical giant Neutrogena – which sells billions in sunscreen and skin-care products promoting the daily usage of high-SPF products even on days when sunburn isn’t a possibility – introduced an SPF 100+ sunscreen product this month, an outlandish SPF number that has even dermatologists laughing at the lunacy of SPF inflation.

Yes, literally laughing.

2009-05-15-crazy-tanningnews-copy.jpgAllure magazine – itself a promoter of daily SPF usage – reported that New York dermatologist and author Jeffrey Dover laughed into the phone when told of Neutrogena’s triple-digit SPF claim and exclaimed, “it’s an arms race.”

Even the most vocal dermatology lobbyists are questioning the logic of higher numbers which have no real efficacy since the product wears off before the consumer can get 100 times their natural protection from sunburn. Boston University dermatologist Barbara Gilchrest – a strong promoter of daily sunscreen over-usage – told The New York Times Thursday that the SPF 100 claim is “crazy” and that “it’s really in my opinion tremendous overkill.”

Even the American Academy of Dermatology’s president is skeptical. “As you get higher and higher, it’s not really a practical difference,” AAD President Dr. David M. Pariser told The Times.

So what is Neutrogena up to? Some sunscreen manufactures defend uber-number products by saying the higher the product, the less often a consumer needs to apply it and that it actually provides better coverage since consumers might not be using enough product – they recommend a shot-glass full per application – and that the higher number offers the consumer extra confidence.

“It appears that the message they’re trying to send is that you have to use enough product, which is another way to stoke their sales,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “So it’s a double message. Use the most expensive SPF, or make sure you use more of the less-expensive product. In an era when sales could slip as consumers look for places to tighten their belts, the SPF manufacturers are looking for ways to get those who still use sunscreens to use more product every time they use it. Not surprising – it’s economics.”

Smart Tan supports the usage of sunscreen only on occasions when sunburn is a possibility.

To read The New York Times story click here.