Sunscreen Use Beats Shade For Preventing Sunburn Interview with:

Hao Ou-Yang, PhD Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc Skillman, New Jersey

Dr. Hao Ou-Yang

Hao Ou-Yang, PhD
Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc
Skillman, New Jersey What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This is the first-ever published study to evaluate UV protection value of shade in a real-world setting.

Eighty-one subjects with Fitzpatrick skin type I to III were divided into two groups: one using only a commercially available beach umbrella (round-shaped, 80” diameter, 75” high) and the other using only Neutrogena® Ultra Sheer® SPF 100+ sunscreen. Sunscreen subjects were monitored applying the product to all exposed areas following the label directions 15 minutes before beach exposure and were instructed to re-apply at least every 2 hours or as needed. Subjects were instructed to stay at the beach for 3.5 hours but could leave or stay under a shade for up to 30 minutes for cooling or rest. Shade subjects were instructed to stay under the umbrella without wearing clothes that could block the evaluated areas during the study duration. They were allowed to leave the umbrella after covering up for up to 30 minutes.

There were significant differences between the two groups in clinically evaluated sunburn protection for all seven body sites measured. The Ultra Sheer SPF 100+ sunscreen provided excellent sunburn protection for all the body sites, as demonstrated by no significant changes in sunburn grading before and after UV exposure in any sites except for face. Of the subjects in the shade group, there were a total of 142 sunburn areas across all parts of the body in 78% of the umbrella group (vs. 17 areas among 10 people in the sunscreen group – 25%). Sunburn incidence within the sunscreen group may be due to uneven application (missed spots), failure to re-apply after sweating, and under-application. Most subjects in the sunscreen group applied roughl yhalf of the amount of sunscreen recommended to achieve the SPF value on the label.

High SPF products provide a margin of safety for consumers who under-apply, as shown here and in other studies. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Seeking shade is widely practiced by consumers to avoid direct sun exposure to skin. Although this may be a viable option to help reduce sun exposure, UV rays still have the ability to reach the skin from other angles. It is important that consumers take a holistic approach to sun protection, as neither shade or sunscreen alone can completely prevent sunburn. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We are interested in further understanding the efficacy of all sun protection methods andhow to continue to improve them for better skin health. We also believe in the value of conducting clinical studies under actual use conditions to better understand sun protection in real life. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This shade study examines a new aspect of sun science, clinically evaluating the efficacy of one of the most popular/common forms of sun protection behavior – and bringing important insights that can impact skin health. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Ou-Yang H, Jiang LI, Meyer K, Wang SQ, Farberg AS, Rigel DS. Sun Protection by Beach Umbrella vs Sunscreen With a High Sun Protection FactorA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Dermatol. Published online January 18, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.4922

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on January 24, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD