Wednesday, May 10, 2006
For those of us in the non-burka wearing world, exposure to sunlight has become fraught with paranoia in recent years. And now that summer is approaching, I need to get something off my freckled chest.
What the hell is going on with SPFs?
When sunscreens first came out, they were mostly 2s and 4s. I thought that was pretty cool. You could lay out on the beach for four hours and only get as much suntan as you would if you were there for an hour. That sounded perfect.
Then they came out with SPF 8. I thought that was overkill, but okay. I understand that there are people who work outdoors all day and that kind of protection could be necessary.
The year after that, they came out with Waterbabies SPF 15. I thought only the most insanely overprotective mothers would buy something like that, but eventually I relented and started slathering it all over my kids, too.
But of course, a couple of years later you couldn't even find SPF 15 on anything marketed for children. They all bore a 30. 30? Thirty times your natural protection from the sun's rays? Isn't that the equivalent of wearing a sweatshirt?
I thought that had to be it. After all, how much protection could we possibly need? I mean, I understand that we've pretty much destroyed our ozone layer, but throwing a football in the backyard with your kid isn't as dangerous as exposure to plutonium, is it?
Apparently, some people think so, because for the past two years the most popular sunscreens have an SPF 45. And just a couple of weeks ago, a woman tried to sell me some makeup with the pitch that it has an SPF 50. I honestly don't think bomb shelters offer an SPF 50.
I'm curious to see how high the SPFs go next year. In meantime, maybe we should stay away from the beach and just go shopping.
Perhaps we'll find some cute burkas.