What is SPF All About?
Does the arrival of SPF 50+ sunscreen on our shelves, hold the answers to protecting our skin from sunburn?
Lets start at the very beginning.
SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor.” This was developed to describe the amount of protection that a sunscreen provides. It is a clinical measurement on how long it takes your skin to burn. For example: It takes your skin 10 minutes to burn without sunscreen, it would take you 300 minutes with an SPF30+ and 500 minutes with an SPF 50+.
Understanding Ultraviolet (UV) Rays.
All sunscreens protect from UVB rays, but only “Broad-Spectrum” sunscreens protect from both UVB and UVA rays. Most commonly used ingredients in “Broad-Spectrum” are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
- UVB rays affect the top layers of the skin and are responsible for Burning.
- UVA rays affect the lower layers of the skin and are responsible for premature Aging.
But no sunscreen offers full protection from the sun. The new SPF50+ sunscreen offers marginally better protection from UVB radiation, which causes sunburn and adds to skin cancer risk. SPF50+ filters out 98% of UVB radiation compared to 96.7% blocked by SPF30. That’s a 1.3% increase.
- Always make sure that your sunscreen is SPF 30 or higher, “broad-spectrum,” and waterproof or sweat proof.
- A generous amount of sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin (do not forget your ears and the back of your neck.) In the summer, it is recommended to use 28grams of sunscreen – the amount to fill a shot glass – to cover your exposed skin.
- Allow at least 20 minutes for your sunscreen to absorb before you head into the sun so that the chemicals can form a protective shield.
- Be sure to reapply another layer of sunscreen if you will be in the sun for more than 2 hours throughout the day under intense UV conditions, and especially when it’s windy or you’re sweating or swimming .
- Check the use-by date.