We saw a few clouds Wednesday, but the UV Index was still at 9. That's dangerously high, if you were outside without sun protection.
The Food and Drug Administration is working on new labeling rules for sunscreen, so we decided to hit the beach and the dermatologists office to shed some light on sunscreen and SPF.
At the beach, we found Linda Spencer of Gastonia, NC. She makes sure her two grandchildren get plenty of sunscreen when they're on the beach. "Because the sun damage starts at an early age, you need to prevent it at an early age," she told us.
She has the kids use an SPF 70 sunscreen, because she believes it protects better.
We found other beach-goers who just weren't convinced, like Catalina Lonita of Buffalo, NY. "There is no evidence that the higher strength versus lower strength makes any difference," she said.
That's closer to the truth.
Dermatologist Dr. Robert Bibb says a high SPF (sun protection factor) is just number manipulation by sunscreen makers and doesn't offer much more protection. In fact, he says most sunscreens sold in the U.S. only protects against UV-B Rays, which means they will prevent sunburn, but not skin cancer. "The A-Rays come through, which cause you both to tan and damage your DNA, that later results in basal cell skin cancer and melanoma," explained Dr. Bibb.
Dr. Bibb says about the only product for sale in the U.S. that stops UV-A Rays is something called Anthelios, sold only at CVS stores and doctor's offices.
Look around the beach and you'll see plenty of folks do use sunscreen, but the desire to look good is strong.
Dr. Bibb says, if you really want to look and be healthy, stay under an umbrella at the beach, limit your time in the sun and use a sunscreen that protects against A-Rays.
Dr. Bibb is developing his own sunscreen that he says will block all types of sunlight, using microcrystals. It's currently in the testing phase. He hopes to get FDA approval soon.
For sunscreen tips visit the American Academy of Dermatology.