LAST year, Coppertone rolled out two easy-to-use sprays with its highest-ever sun protection factor: SPF 70+. Not to be outdone, Neutrogena offered its Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch lotion in SPF 85 strength, that year’s big gun.
This sun season, Banana Boat is retaliating with a pair of SPF 85 sprays, which it trumpets on its Web site as “our highest SPF level in a continuous spray formula.”
But now, SPF creep has hit the triple digits with Neutrogena’s SPF 100+ sunblock, leading some dermatologists to complain that this is merely a numbers game that confuses consumers.
The parade of stratospheric SPFs is “crazy,” said Dr. Barbara A. Gilchrest, a dermatology professor at Boston University School of Medicine. “For a normal person who is fair-skinned and concerned about skin damage and photoaging,” Dr. Gilchrest said, “it’s really in my opinion tremendous overkill.”