We are all countlessly reminded and told to apply (and then re-apply) sunscreen when the sun’s out, but do you actually know what it does? And what it can prevent once applied onto the face and body?
With so much information and opinions about sun protection available at the click of a button, it can easily become overwhelming and confusing. Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about SPF sunscreen!
What Is Spf Sunscreen?
SPF, or sun protection factor, is a measure of how well a sunscreen product (whether that’s a cream, an oil, or in a spray or stick form) will protect the skin from UVB rays. It is rated on a scale from two to 50+. The higher the SPF number, the stronger the protection you’ll have. UV (ultraviolet) rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation which comes from the sun.
For the best protection, skin experts recommend using a minimum SPF sunscreen of 15, applying the correct amount, and then reapplying it every 2 hours. When buying a sun protection product, you want to make sure that you purchase a broad-spectrum product that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.
The Difference Between UVA And UVB Rays
An SPF sunscreen product measures sunscreen protection from UVB rays, the kind that can cause sunburn and contribute to the development of skin cancer. UVB rays cause sunburn and have strong links to skin cancer (including malignant melanoma). Using an SPF sunscreen with UVB protection will help prevent skin burning, which, in turn, will help protect it from developing skin cancer.
Whereas, SPF does not measure how well a sunscreen product will protect you from UVA rays, which are also damaging and dangerous. UVA rays are the main cause of wrinkles and skin ageing because they penetrate more deeply than UVB rays – even when the sun isn’t shining, which is why you should wear sunscreen on your face all year round.
SPF 30 Or 50?
An SPF of 30 is the most common level for most people and most skin types. It’s important to remember that no sunscreen can block all UV rays, but what we do know is: SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.
So, the difference between 30 and 50 is about 1 percent. Therefore, when it comes to choosing which sun protection factor to go for when buying an SPF sunscreen, there is little difference from an SPF 30 to an SPF 50.
How Can I Protect My Skin?
If an SPF sunscreen is applied too thinly, then the amount of protection that it is able to provide will decrease. You should use approximately two teaspoons of SPF sunscreen if you are planning to expose your head, arms and neck to the sun. In addition to using a sunscreen product (with a minimum SPF of 15), seek shade whenever possible, and wear sun-protective clothing, broad-brimmed hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
One of the biggest myths when it comes to applying SPF is that sun damage only happens during the summer months, or while you’re at the beach. This is not true. Photodamage and UV exposure (which causes aging) occur from exposure to daylight. It can even happen through windows. This is why protecting the skin every day is incredibly important.