We see this acronym every time we buy a beauty product, but do we know what SPF means? Well, SPF means Sun Protection Factor and it is related to the amount of time that the sunscreen will protect you against the Ultraviolet rays (UVB). In shorter words, it is an element that determines the efficacy of sunscreen.
UVB rays cause visible sunburns and the one related to skin cancer. On the other hand, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin but don’t cause visible sunburns. UVA rays are more related to photoaging. If you are looking to protect from both make sure that your sunscreen has the word “broad spectrum”.
The SPF number tells how long the solar radiation will take to affect your skin. For example, SPF 50 take 50 times longer to affect your skin if you weren’t using sunscreen. For example, if you normally burn your skin after 20 minutes of sun exposure, but you are wearing SPF 50, then you multiply 20×50. This will give you 1000 minutes of protection. But this is not completely accurate. This is why you need to reapply every couple of hours, especially if you are out during the summer.
The higher the SPF, the more time you can be exposed to the sun without causing you any harm. If you are planning an outdoor activity, choose at least SPF 30 and reapply every two hours. However, not all products are the same. Consider your skin phototype and the type of activity you will do. For example, if you are planning to go to the beach or pool choose a waterproof and broad-spectrum product.
Remember that even during winter, you need to still apply Sun Protection Factor. Nowadays, some moisturizers and make-up are combined with SPF 15-30. This is acceptable, but it is recommended to add something extra. Also don’t rely only on sunscreen, you should also use sunglasses, umbrellas, and hats to protect yourself from sunburns.