What’s Your Number: SPF Facts You Should Know
SPF can protect your skin from sun damage, but knowing what level of coverage to use, when to apply and how often to reapply will make it more effective. We've got all the info you need to know in one helpful guide.
If summer fun is calling your name, it's time to brush up on your SPF knowledge to get the best protection from harsh summer sun. Here's what you need to know to stay safe and protect your beautiful skin all season long.
It's recommended that you use SPF, or sun protection factor, of 30 at a minimum. Use a broad-spectrum (that protects against harmful UVA and UVB rays), water-resistant formula. Sunscreen should be applied to the entire body and the face. Don't forget the tops of ears, back of neck, and lips! The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), wearing protective clothing like a hat with a wide brim or headscarf to protect the scalp, and using sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied every single day, whether it's warm or cold, sunny or cloudy. Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun's UV rays can harm the skin.
How to Apply
Apply 1 ounce (about the amount in a shot glass) to the body 30 minutes prior to going outside. The golden rule is to apply every two hours. Don't forget that UV rays reflect off of water, snow, and sand, making it easier for you to burn. Reapply more frequently if you are sweating or in the water. More is more when it comes to SPF.
There has been some speculation on whether certain ingredients hinder the body's natural Vitamin D development or if they are actually protecting against both UVA and UVB rays. The FDA maintains that FDA-approved sunscreens are safe and effective to use. Here's what those ingredients with the crazy names are:
- Retinal Palmitate: Used to reduce signs of aging, derived from Vitamin A
- Oxybenzone: Used as a UV filter
- Nanoparticles: Used for broad-spectrum protection in mineral (non-chemical) sunscreens. The most common are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
What Those Numbers Mean
It's important to remember that just because you're using a higher number of SPF doesn't mean it's doubling or tripling the effectiveness of a lower number. Using SPF 30 the correct way (applying generously and consistently throughout the day) is a much better option than applying SPF 60 one time.