What You Need to Know About SPF
Written By: Shanaye Barber
Rising temperatures can bring out the urge to participate in more outdoor activities and enjoy the sun. While being outdoors can be fun, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s harsh UV (ultraviolent). UV rays are harmful lights of radiation given off by the sun. UVA rays can penetrate directly into the skin and cause severe skin damage, which is linked to premature skin aging and skin cancer. UVB rays affect the surface of the skin, which causes skin to become sunburned. Using sunscreen properly can effectively protect against the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays. You may, however, be paying more for sunscreen that is not as protective as the bottle would lead you to believe.
One of the most important factors regarding sunblock is determining how much SPF (Sun Protection Factor) you really need. It is recommended to use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15. Sunscreen with an SPF 15 protects skin from 93 percent of UVB radiation, while SPF 30 offers protection against 97 percent of UVB rays. The FDA is currently regulating all sunscreen distributed in the US. According to the FDA, when the new rule is finalized, companies would not be able to label sunscreen over SPF 50. The FDA states that there is no evidence to prove that any SPF over 50 offers any more protection. Labeling sunscreen anything over SPF 50 can lead to consumers purchasing more expensive sunscreen without receiving better results.
When it comes to choosing sunscreen, always select one that has Broad Spectrum labeled on the bottle. This simply means that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Also, sunscreen must be reapplied every 2 hours to remain at the same level of effectiveness. This rule even applies to sunscreen labeled “sweatproof” or “waterproof.” Keep in mind that sunscreen isn’t 100 percent effective. Seek shade and wear protective clothing when you are outside for long periods of time. Have fun outside, but be safe while doing so!