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What does SPF actually mean?

With scorching weather all year round, how about we focus on sunscreen this issue? First subject: What does SPF really mean? We notice it on sunscreens, creams and also makeup, however, most of us are still confused about what it really means and if the number is higher on the label does this indicate that the sunscreen is more effective? Does using sunscreen mean that you can now enjoy hours of fun in the sun without the concern of getting burned? Let’s take a closer look.

SPF is short for Sun Protection Factor. This factor evaluates the amount of ultraviolet (or UV) radiation it requires for burning your skin when it’s unprotected in comparison to the amount it requires for burning it when it’s covered with sunscreen. With a higher SPF value from your sunscreen, you can expect better protection against sunburn.

Now, here’s the complicated part. A lot of people are convinced that SPF refers to the amount of time you can enjoy in the sun. Basically, if you’re able to remain in the sun for half an hour before burning and you use a sunscreen having an SPF of 10, you should manage to be in the sun for 30 x 10 = 300 minutes or 5 hours before burning. Correct?

Not even close. Lower SPF solutions don’t stop quite as much of the sun’s radiation compared to higher SPF solutions. Furthermore, in case you are in the sun in the course of peak hours, you are going to burn faster. Last but not least, lab testing reveals that individuals don’t use enough sunblock to obtain the complete SPF effect (you have to apply evenly!) to ensure that SPF 10 solution may only protect you for one hour (max!) – not the 5 hours that you would assume.

SPF does not only refer to the length of sun exposure; in addition, it pertains to the severeness of sun exposure. Listed below are the two things to remember when thinking of SPF.

  • Time would be the first factor that plays a role in the overall exposure level; however it’s not the sole factor.
  • The severeness of the UV rays also has an effect on the amount. For instance, 60 minutes of sun rays at 9:00 am is similar to 15 minutes of sun rays at 1:00 pm. Therefore, if you’re simply considering how much time you’re exposed to the sun you may significantly neglect the amount of sun exposure you’re actually getting.

Bottom Line

Make use of a wide selection of sunscreen (a product that can protect you from both UVB and UVA rays) containing an SPF of 30 for the lowest. Furthermore, the FDA suggests that you reapply each two hours (regardless of whether it’s a sweatproof or a waterproof sun block) and restrict the amount of time you spend in the sun, particularly between 10am and 2pm, since this is the time where the sunlight are the most powerful. Here’s to an enjoyable and sunburn-free out in the sun!

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