Secrets behind the SPF in Your Sunscreen

This summer, are you ready to face your skin's biggest enemy– the scorching sun? The rising mercury levels translate into tan, sun burn and other skin problems. That is why, it is essential for you to invest in a good sunscreen with SPF. Unfortunately, when you go to the market, you are confronted with a wide array of sunscreens with SPF ranging from 5 to 100. This can easily confuse you about which one to buy for maximum protection. So, to help you find the perfect sunscreen this summer, we are going to reveal the secrets behind these different SPFs.

What is SPF?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. SPF basically tells you for how long a particular sunscreen will protect you from the harmful sun rays. Many women just look at high SPF levels while buying a sunscreen, but that should not be the only factor to consider. You should know that SPF only provides protection against UVB rays (ultraviolet radiations that cause sunburn). For protection against UVA rays (which cause deeper skin damage and diseases), look for sunscreens that offer a ‘broad spectrum’ protection.

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Decoding the numbers

As we said, there are SPFs ranging from 5 to 100, so it is important for you to understand what these numbers signify:

SPF 4 to 14

Sunscreens with such low levels of SPF are not really available, but talcum powders and skin foundations often come with this minimal protection. You should not step-out in the sun for more than 15 minutes while using such low SPF.

SPF 15 to 30

Many people are under the misconception that higher SPF levels translate into better protection. This is not completely true. For instance, SPF 30 will definitely provide you better protection than SPF 15, but it won’t provide you double the protection of SPF 15.

SPF 15 provides you protection from 93 percent of UVB rays whereas SPF 30 blocks about 97 percent of UVB rays.

SPF 50 and above

The actual increment in sun protection factor of sunscreens after SPF 30 are quite negligible. SPF 50 protects you from 98 percent of UV rays; however, it is priced much higher. That is why, SPF 30 is considered to be an ideal buy for the daily usage.

You must use SPF 50 sun block only when you are going to stay outdoors for prolonged periods, like going out for swimming, or if you have really sensitive skin.

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Numbers may lie

Remember that you should not just go by the numbers alone. Many a times, sunscreen can get washed away due to sweat. Also, many people don’t apply sunscreen evenly across their body nor do they use an adequate amount. These factors affect the protection shield that your sunscreen provides.

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Few points to remember

Here are a few points that you should remember while applying sunscreen:

  • Mostly, people apply about a pea-sized amount of sunscreen. This is, however, inadequate. You must always slather a decent amount of sun block.
  • You should apply sunscreen not only on your face, but also on your neck, arms and feet.
  • For best results always apply the sunscreen 20 minutes before you step-out in the sun.
  • Waterproof sun blocks are the best because they don’t come off with sweat.
  • Always re-apply sunscreen, after every 2 to 3 hours, even when you are indoors.

So, now you know that excessive sun block won’t cause you any harm, but lesser sunscreen can definitely harm your skin.


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