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What You Need to Know About SPF and Sunblock

There’s a lot of fun to have under the sun, but it’s well known that we need to protect our skin from harmful UV rays. With all of the options available in the market, it can get pretty overwhelming, and sometimes, misleading. Here are some important tips to help you choose the right one your family.

1. Look for a “Broad Spectrum” Sunblock

There are actually two forms of harmful UV rays: UVB and UVA. UVB rays hit the top layer of you skin and are responsible for causing sunburns, while UVA rays penetrate deeper into your skin causing skin aging and wrinkles. While both rays damage your skin’s DNA and are potentially cancerous, some sunblocks only protect you from UVB rays. So while you’re shopping, make sure to look for a sunblock that says “broad spectrum” to protect you from both.

2. Understand the SPF

SPF (sun protection factor) typically tells you how long it would take for UVB rays to burn your skin. If you were wearing an SPF 15 sunblock, it would take 15 times longer to get sunburned than if you were without it.

With this understanding, people tend to look for the highest SPF available— like SPF 100— thinking it would provide double the protection of an SPF 50. However, when it comes to the percentage of rays blocked off, the range is quite minimal. When applied properly, an SPF 30 is able to block off 97% of UVB rays, while an SPF 50 blocks 98% and an SPF 100 blocks 99%. Because of how misleading the higher SPF numbers are, several countries cap sunscreen products at “SFF 50+”. Many dermatologists suggest an SPF between 30 and 50, as it provides sufficient protection for all skin types. Some experts even advise to stay away from any SPF over 50 because it may contain a higher concentration of chemicals and affect your skin tissue and hormones.

3. Proper Application Matters More

More than the SPF, experts suggest that properly applying your sunblock is what really matters. Be sure to give your skin enough time (around half an hour) to absorb the sunblock before getting wet. To make sure your sunblock is as effective as intended by its manufacturers, read and follow the label’s instructions. Be generous when applying your sunblock, and don’t forget to reapply!

Here’s to safe fun under the sun!


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