The best sunblock is long sleeves and pants — not exactly convenient in the heat of summer, but it’s the truth. “In general, clothing offers much superior protection to sunscreen,” says Dr. Wang.
One reason is that people generally don’t apply enough sunscreen; usually, they apply only about half the recommended amount. In terms of SPF, that means that people are typically only getting about a third or a quarter of the sun protection that’s listed on the bottle. “There is a direct linear relationship between SPF and concentration [the amount of sunscreen you apply]. You likely think you have on SPF 30, but only have on SPF 10,” says Dr. Wang, whereas “clothing is always on you.” By covering up or wearing sun-protective clothing, you don’t have to remember to “reapply” every couple of hours.
Wang notes also that while sunscreen typically offers better protection against UVB than UVA, clothing boasts much more balanced protection.
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