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What the Different SPF Numbers Mean on Sunscreen

spf sunscreen

June 24, 2020

Your skin is delicate and is deceptive to sunburn when you are outside for a period of time. As time goes on, the sun’s UV rays can create wrinkles and sunspots. It is important to take care of your skin through a proper skincare regimen such as hydrating yourself, getting enough sleep and staying away from the sun as much as possible and if it’s unavoidable, you should use products with SPF. You probably heard about SPF or sunscreen because you are constantly reminded of it especially when going out.

So what is SPF? SPF is an abbreviation for Sun Protection Factor and the number beside it is an indicator of how well the sunscreen will protect your skin against the harmful rays of the sun. The SPF number doesn’t indicate how long you can stay under the sun but instead, it indicates how much longer it will take untanned skin to start to get red with sunscreen applied. In other words, the SPF rating will give you an idea how long you can stay under the heat of the sun without getting burned. 

For example, if it takes 15 minutes for your skin to get burned without sunscreen, applying sunscreen with SPF 10 will take 10 times longer – that’s about more than 2 hours for your skin to be burned in the sun. 

Why is it important to use sunscreen?

According to skin experts, most skin problems and disorders are caused by too much exposure to the sun’s harmful rays – UVA and UVB. UVB rays are the ones responsible for sunburn while on the other hand, UVA will penetrate deeper into your skin. UVA rays can lead to long term effects which can be damaging to your skin such as wrinkles, premature aging and other skin problems. In severe cases, it can also cause skin cancer. 

However, sunscreen can create a shield-like protection preventing UVA and UVB rays from reaching your skin and keep it safe from any harmful effects. Most products that contain sunscreen do this by absorbing or scattering the light. The earth has a natural shield – our ozone layer and it protects the planet from the sun’s damaging rays but that layer is now thin and cannot provide the same protection as it used to before. It means, wearing sunscreen is a must. 

How to pick the best SPF 

Most people would grab a bottle with the highest SPF. Bigger is better, right? However, a product with SPF 30 is as effective as a product that contains SPF 50 especially when it is applied properly to give off better protection. The key is to choose at least SPF 30 and apply it as thoroughly and as frequently as possible. Also, remember to choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection as it can protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays. Also, pay attention to your skin type. If you have oily skin, choose a sunscreen that is non-comedogenic as this product will not block your pores. 

While sunscreen can protect your skin, the best way to keep your skin healthy is to avoid going out during peak daylight hours. Stay away from direct sunlight and enjoy having healthy, glowing skin for longer. 

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