What SPF Sunscreen Is Best?

| by , under Skincare and Beauty

Sunscreen products come with a wide range of sun protection factor (SPF) ratings. Browsing through a store's skin care department reveals products with an SPF anywhere from 2 to 100, or even higher. What number is best? To answer this question, let's take a closer look at what the term really means.


The Meaning of SPF


Sun protection factor, more commonly called SPF, represents the ability of a sunscreen product to block ultraviolet B rays. These UVB rays cause sunburn. A sunscreen with SPF 2 can block only 50% of the sun's UVB rays. One with a factor of 100 blocks 99% of these rays. No product can block all of the UVB rays.


What most people don't realize, however, is that the protection scale is not linear. An SPF 10 sunscreen blocks 90% of UVB rays, while one with a factor of 30 blocks 97% of them. Additionally, the number gives an indication of how long it takes to burn with sunscreen compared to without sunscreen. For example, SPF 15 means it takes 15 times longer to burn with sunscreen than without.


The Most Practical SPF Range


While higher numbers are always better for skin care and protection, often the price tag for these products is considerably bigger. Therefore, dermatologists and skin care specialists recommend products with an SPF between 30 and 50. These block between 97% and 98% of harmful UVB rays. Anything lower is probably not sufficient protection, while anything higher may not be necessary.


Other Considerations


The SPF level isn't the only thing to consider when it comes to choosing and applying sunscreen. Skincare products only work when used correctly. To properly protect against sun damage, apply sunscreen thirty minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours. At the beach or the pool, it's important to apply more sunscreen after swimming. Finally, if sun damage does occur, in spite of protection efforts, spa treatments can refresh, hydrate, and rejuvenate the skin.

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