Comparing Sunscreens

Introduction

Sunscreens are available in many different types and with many different levels of protection. The most common measure of protection from UVB light is the SPF factor. SPF, or sun protection factor, describes the increased amount of time you can be in the sun before your skin starts to burn. For example, a sunscreen labeled SPF 8 means that you can be out in the sun eight times longer before burning than you would without using any protection. Products range from SPF 0 to SPF 50 or higher. But is SPF 50 really twice as protective as SPF 25? You will perform an experiment that will help answer that question.

The ultraviolet band is broken into three types referred to as UVA, UVB, and UVC. The most harmful of these three, UVC light, is absorbed by the atmosphere and does not reach the Earth’s surface. UVA light is deep-penetrating and causes tanning, wrinkles, and some forms of skin cancer. UVB light is also responsible for many skin problems such as sunburns and several forms of skin cancer.

In this experiment, you will measure the amount of UVB light that passes through various sunscreens. You will then compare it with the amount of UVB light from direct sun and analyze the relationship between them.

Objectives

In this experiment, you will

  • Use a UVB Sensor to measure UVB light.
  • Determine the amount of UVB light allowed through five different sunscreens.
  • Analyze the trend of UVB light vs. SPF values.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment requires each of the following Vernier sensors and equipment (unless otherwise noted):

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Download Experiment Preview

The student-version preview includes:

  • Step-by-step instructions for computer-based data collection
  • List of materials and equipment

Note: The experiment preview of the computer edition does not include essential teacher information, safety tips, or sample data. Instructions for Logger Pro and other software (such as LabQuest App or TI handheld software, where available) are on the CD that accompanies the book. We strongly recommend that you purchase the book before performing experiments.

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Experiment 21 from Earth Science with Vernier Lab Book

<em>Earth Science with Vernier</em> book cover

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Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include a CD with word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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