You see it on TV, read it in magazines and find it on your skin creams. But do you really know and understand what SPF is?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The SPF in your sunscreen determines the level of sun protection your skin gets from UV rays.
UV rays are of two types – UVA and UVB. Most sunscreens protect the skin from UVB, which causes sunburn and could lead to skin cancer. UVA causes skin damages like tanning, skin ageing and wrinkles.
The SPF number in your sunscreen is an indication of how long the sun’s rays will take to burn your skin, provided you use it exactly as directed. If your SPF is 30, it means your skin will stay safe for 30 times longer than without the sunscreen. However, an SPF 50 doesn’t necessarily mean 50 times the protection; but it cuts back the UV radiation by almost 50%, compared to SPF 30.
The highest SPF does not really provide the best protection.
1. Use a minimum SPF of 15 for limited sun exposure on a daily basis.
2. Ideally choose SPF 30 or higher for extended sun exposure everyday.
3. Reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours for maximum protection.
4. Choose water and sweat proof sunscreen.
5. If you are fair, have sensitive skin, are on photo-sensitizing medications, or have a family history of skin cancer, choose SPF 50 or more.
6. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen to get protection from UVA rays as well.
In addition to sunscreen, use protective clothing, sun hats and sunglasses when you get out in the sun.