What’s Up With SPF?

Confused about all the SPF info out there? We give you rundown on what you need to know this summer!

A sunscreen’s effectiveness is measured by the strength of its sun protection factor, or SPF. SPF is not how much protection you get, but how long it takes for UVB rays to cause erythema (redness) to the skin when using a sunscreen, in comparison to when redness would occur without the product. So if you are using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, your skin will take 15 times longer to redden than if you went without sunscreen. The increase in SPF also relates to the sunscreen’s effectiveness against UVB rays. SPF 15 has 93-per cent efficiency, while SPF 30 comes in at 97 per cent, and SPF 50 offers a 98-per cent risk reduction. When you pick up a bottle of sunscreen and see SPF 30, 45, 50, or 60, this is only indicative of your protection against UVB rays, which total five per cent of the rays you need to worry about. So how do we protect from UVA rays and stop them from penetrating deeper into our skin? It’s important to look for key ingredients that are sufficient protectors against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for a minimum of SPF 30 with broad-spectrum protection and one or more of the following UV-fighting ingredients:

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide

The ingredients in sunscreens fall into two broad categories: chemical UV absorbers and physical screens. The majority of UV filters fall into the chemical category, forming a thin, protective film on the skin’s surface, which absorbs UV radiation prior to skin penetration. Physical barriers – like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide – are insoluble particles that reflect UV away from the skin. Most sunscreens contain a mixture of active chemical and physical ingredient as the combination of reflective and absorbent interceptors give your skin the most protection.

Now that you’re an expert on UV rays, we know you still have one burning question: how can you maintain your glowing complexion without risking skin damage? Believe it or not, spray tans are the best way to go. You can get the beautiful, bronzed glow you want while still maintaining your skin’s natural health and youth. Remember, your skin is the largest organ you have and you only get one, so keep it healthy, hydrated, and most importantly, protected!

Next Up: Protection Tips

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