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What SPF Do You Need?

by kelly / May, 27 2020 01:30

Woman at beach during sunset

Wearing sunscreen or an SPF product is a MUST every day of the year. I hope that’s a given. But, as all SPFs are not created equal, what exact SPF level do you need? Well we’ve got the expert recommendations.

You Need An SPF 15 or Higher

First off here’s a quick refresher on SPF – it stands for sun protection factor. SPF is a measure of how well a sunscreen or SPF product blocks UVB rays.

The SPF level or number generally tells you approximately what percentage of UVB rays your sunblock will block. However the scale is not linear. For example:

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays

For an even more detailed breakdown of SPF check out our post: “What a Sunscreen's SPF Really Means”.

So the recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation is to use a SPF 15 or higher; SPF 30 or higher for a day outdoors. The American Academy Dermatology also recommends using a SPF 30 or higher everyday.

All our sunscreens are SPF 30 Laughing.

So, Should You Choose An SPF 100?

I often hear “then why not just choose an SPF 100 – wouldn’t that block out everything?” Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that and no sunscreen or SPF product will block 100% of the sun’s UV rays.

Additionally, many experts believe that high-number SPF gives people a false sense of security. People that use them tend to stay out in the sun longer and don’t reapply. Then they end up getting more sun damage which defeats the purpose of SPF.

The reality is that whether you use high-number SPF or a low-number SPF, the recommendation is still to reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming, sweating, or towel drying.

Unfortunately sometimes you end up paying double for a SPF 100 with diminishing returns. For example, you’re not getting “double” the protection when using SPF 50 vs SPF 100.

Finally the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the government agency that regulates sunscreen and SPF products, is considering capping SPF protection at 50 or 60. Other countries and regions such as Australia, the European Union, and Japan have capped SPF levels at 50 and some even at 30.

So, is there anything else to know? There is, broad spectrum…

Broad Spectrum Protection Is A Must

The SPF number isn’t the only thing you should be on the lookout for when choosing the right sunblock. Make sure any sunscreen or SPF product you use also provides broad spectrum protection. Look for the exact words “broad spectrum” on your product.

SPF is only a measure of protection against UVB rays. UVA rays are also a factor. While UVB rays can cause sunburn and play a key role in developing skin cancer, UVA rays are responsible for skin damage and skin aging.

A product labeled as “broad spectrum” will provide protection against UVA rays and, according to the FDA, this means “the product provides UVA protection that is proportional to its UVB protection.”

Just a reminder that all of our sunscreens are SPF 30 and broad spectrum.

Suncare Smarts

So there you have it the answer to all your SPF questions. Don’t forget to reach for that broad spectrum SPF 15 or higher product when you wake up in the morning and start your day.

For even more sunscreen and suncare questions check out our Suncare Smarts and Sunscreen and Sunblock articles.

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