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What is SPF

What is SPF

Sun Protection Factor

What is SPF…It is Sun Protection Factor

There are various SPF numbers given to the different sunscreen products on the market. SPF is a name denoting the Sun Protection Factor which is a laboratory measurement for the effectiveness of the sunscreen. SPF numbers start at 2 and have recently reached as high as 70, . The higher the SPF number of a tanning product, the greater protection the sunscreen or sunblock has against the ultraviolet radiation (really protection from UVB radiation) which causes sunburn. To put it simply the SPF number of the tanning lotion tells you how long you can stay in the sun with the protection. So SPF 15 would be one-quarter as effective as SPF 70 lotions.

Sunscreen is a lotion or spray that reflects or absorbs a partial amount of the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV) on the skin. There are two categories of UV light. UVA and UVB. UVB causes the sunburn while UVA damages the skin more long term and can lead to premature aging, skin cancer and melanoma. An easy way to distinguish the effects is simply UVA, A for aging, UVB, B for burning!

While this is a great guideline for everyone to use it is only an approximation and there are many factors that also need to be looked at any time,such as the time of day,geographic location, and also weather conditions. It is therefore only one of the many tools, so to speak that should be utilized when in the sun. SPF needs to be used in combination with other things…..such as sunglasses,head protection and some common sense such as just keeping in the shade at certain times of the day if possible. Some of the factors that should be considered are skin pigment type, how much sunblock and sunscreen is applied and how often it is reapplied…..a young child who is in the water for a great length of time and has excessive exposure to the sun will need it applied more often that the mom sitting on the blanket watching the child.

A common mistake is applying too little sunscreen or sunblock. At least 1 oz should be applied at each use. It is suggested it is applied at least 30 minutes before going outdoors into sunlight, and every two hours when
in the sun.

Research has given us a simple formula you can use as a quick guide……. Multiply your SPF(Sun Protection Factor) number by 10 and that will indicate the approximate number of minutes that the sunblock will protect you. SPF 30 lasts for 300 minutes (5 hours).SPF 15 only provides a little more than two hours of protection.

So enjoy the beach. Enjoy the sunbathing. Enjoy the boating. Even enjoy the sun. Just enjoy it wisely and take care of your skin. Know your SPF.