Understanding SPF: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Skin
As the weather gets warmer and the sun gets stronger, it's essential to have a solid understanding of SPF and how it works to protect your skin. In this article, we'll explain what SPF is, how it works, and why it's so important to choose the right sunscreen for your needs.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor" and is a measure of how much protection a sunscreen product provides against UVB rays. UVB rays are responsible for causing sunburn and are the primary cause of most forms of skin cancer. SPF does not, however, measure protection against UVA rays, which can penetrate the skin more deeply and cause premature aging and more harmful forms of skin cancer.
How Does SPF Work?
The differences between SPF levels can be confusing, but it's essential to know that the increase in protection becomes much smaller as the SPF gets higher. For example, SPF 5 provides 80% UVB protection, while SPF 30 provides 97% and SPF 100 provides 99%. In 2012, the FDA set the SPF limit to SPF 50+, as higher levels don't provide significantly more protection.
What About Broad-Spectrum?
When choosing a sunscreen, it's crucial to look for a broad-spectrum product. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays and have to pass specific tests to legally make this claim. It's essential to remember that no sunscreen can block all UV rays, so it's essential to seek shade or wear protective clothing during peak sun hours.
Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreens
It's also important to consider the type of sunscreen you're using. Chemical sunscreens use chemicals to absorb UV rays, while mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to physically block UV rays. Chemical sunscreens may cause hormone disruption and allergic skin reactions, making mineral sunscreens the safer option.
For more information here's our guide to help you understand the difference between Mineral & Chemical Sunscreens
Sunscreen Application and Reapplication
Finally, it's crucial to remember to apply sunscreen properly and reapply it every two hours, or more frequently if swimming or sweating. It's recommended to choose a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen with the highest water resistance of 80 minutes, such as the Thinkbaby Sunscreen or Thinksport Sunscreen lines.
In conclusion, protecting your skin from the sun is essential, and understanding SPF is a crucial part of this process. By choosing a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen and applying it properly, you can enjoy the sun safely and reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer.