When you are trying to decide which sunscreens are best for you and the person you are caring for, you need to take SPF into consideration. A couple of questions first, though: hat is SPF? and how does it help prevent your skin from burning?
- What is SPF?
- How does it help prevent your skin from burning?
What is SPF?
SPF is an abbreviation for Sun Protection Factor, which measures how well a sunscreen protects your skin from UVB rays that cause sunburn and contribute to skin cancer. However, SPF does not measure how well a sunscreen protects your skin from UVA rays, which also cause damage, penetrating the skin causing wrinkling.
How does it help prevent your skin from burning?
The SPF number on a bottle is the amount of time the sunscreen protects your skin while you have direct contact with the sun. For example, if you usually start to burn after 10 minutes in the sun, using a SPF 15 sunscreen will protect your skin for 15 times longer, so 150 minutes. The number is an estimate and is based on each individual skin type. Experts recommend always using a minimum SPF sunscreen of 15 and reapplying it every two hours.
A common myth with SPF is that the higher the SPF, the better its protection. But know this: SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 97% of UVB rays which is only 4% higher than SPF 15 that blocks 93% of UVB rays. SPF 50 and above only block 98% of UVB rays. The truth is, it’s more important that you are properly applying sunscreen, and reapplying it every two hours, rather than just choosing a sunscreen with the highest SPF.
TIP: The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation makes great and trust reviews of brands out there. This seal guarantees a safe, effective product. Remember, sunscreen is only one of the protective measures to take to protect your skin. You cannot rely on that alone. Check out The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Prevention Guidelines for more information on how you can protect you and your family from some of the harms of UV rays.