What Exactly Does SPF Mean?

In the past few years, it appears that an increasing number of individuals have recognized the necessity of shielding their skin from the potentially damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation released by the sun. According to the American Cancer Society, the most prevalent source of UV radiation, which can lead to skin cancers such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, is sunshine.  Wearing sun-protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses, and avoiding the sun as much as possible are two simple techniques to avoid UV radiation exposure.

In addition to any of these precautions, using an SPF-containing product is your best chance of achieving sun safety and preserving healthy skin.

What Does SPF Mean?

According to Dr. Guanche, “Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a scientific measure of how long a sunscreen can protect you against ultraviolet (UV) B rays.”

For example, if it takes 30 times longer to burn your skin while using sunscreen than without, the SPF is 30. This is a precise amount that necessitates lab testing for what we term MED, minimal erythema dosing.

Dr. Guanche continues by saying that the higher the SPF number, the more protection you’ll get from that specific sunscreen. These statistics might represent the degree of protection you can expect from sunscreen by spanning a wide range. Anything with an SPF of less than 15 is considered low protection, while SPF 15 to 29 is considered medium protection.

Anything with an SPF of 30 to 49 provides great protection, while anything with an SPF of 50 or more provides extremely high protection. When applied appropriately, 50 should block off 99 percent of UV.

SPF vs Sunscreen

Some individuals may mix up the phrases sunscreen and SPF, using them interchangeably. While one cannot exist without the other, there is a distinction between the two. Let’s see what the difference is.

Sunscreen: Sunscreen is a liquid or cream that you apply to your skin. This is presumably the thick, white lotion your parents used to pour on your skin before you went to the beach as a youngster, a practice that has hopefully lasted with you throughout the years. Sunscreen, like long-sleeved clothes, wide-brimmed hats, and beach umbrellas, is a highly efficient strategy to protect our skin from UV damage. Sunscreen is applied to the skin to help protect it from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It is safe for all skin types and races.

SPF: The number assigned to a sunscreen recipe represents the degree of UVB protection it provides. Sunscreen refers to the particular formula you’re applying, whereas SPF refers to the level of protection the formula offers your skin.

Broad-Spectrum SPF: The number provided to a sunscreen recipe to represent how well it protects against UVB and UVA rays. SPF that is not branded as broad-spectrum protects solely against UVB rays, whereas SPF that is designated as broad-spectrum protects only against UVB rays. UVB produces skin burning, whereas UVA causes photo aging, which includes wrinkles, collagen loss, and the creation of brown patches on the skin.

How Does SPF Work?

SPF works by either shielding the sun’s rays with a thick layer on the skin (physical sunscreens) or by inducing a chemical reaction in which the UV rays are absorbed and transmuted into another sort of energy (chemical sunscreens) (chemical sunscreens). Understanding how SPF works can assist you in distinguishing between two types of sunscreen.

Sunscreens: Chemical vs Physical

While any sunscreen is preferable to none, there are differences within these products that offer changes in both active chemicals utilized and the appearance of the application. In a nutshell, physical sunscreens block UV rays whereas chemical sunscreens absorb them.

Physical sunscreens include mineral components such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  These substances work to block and scatter UV radiation before they reach the skin.  Mineral sunscreens are notorious for creating a white or greyish cast on the skin and are often a little less thin than the alternative, making the application seem a little more difficult.

On the other hand, chemical sunscreens contain chemicals like avobenzone and octisalate that operate to absorb UV radiation before it may harm the skin.

Many users love Elta MD UV Clear, a broad-spectrum sunscreen that also contains niacinamide (vitamin B3), which helps to reduce redness, hyaluronic acid, which attracts and retains moisture within the skin, and vitamin E, which functions as an antioxidant to reduce the free radical formation and subsequent skin damage.

How Much SPF Do You Need?

So now we know that SPF may save not only our lives but also the appearance and feel of our skin. The question is, how do we apply it? The greatest way to go is to move slowly and generously. The sun protection factor (SPF) is calculated by applying two milligrams (mg) of sunscreen to each square centimeter (cm) of the skin surface. To cover the body of an ordinary adult, this is about equivalent to six full teaspoons. This is far more than the average individual does.

In addition to applying the appropriate amount, we must apply SPF to our skin on a regular basis to obtain the maximum benefit from the product. Every morning, sunscreen should be applied and reapplied every two hours. If you don’t want to reapply a cream to your face because you’re wearing makeup, Colorescience has a great broad-spectrum brush-on sunscreen that makes reapplying even easier.

Is It Necessary To Wear Sunscreen Every Day?

The simple answer is yes, even in the cold and when you’ll be stuck indoors all day. Sunscreen should be worn every day.  That implies cloudy days, wet days, partly sunny days, and so on. As a general guideline, if it’s daylight, all exposed skin should be protected with SPF. This covers places like the tops of your ears, eyelids, neck, and the tops of your hands and feet, which are typically missed. While clouds can cover the sun, they can’t prevent UV rays, so you’re still at risk for sunburn and skin damage in overcast weather.

SPF isn’t only for when you’re going outside; it’s also important to protect yourself when you’re indoors, especially if you’re seated near a window or driving during the day. Even while you’re inside, you’re not safe. Although UVB cannot penetrate glass, UVA may. This means that even if you’re indoors, you’re still vulnerable to UVA’s harmful effects, which include skin aging and the creation of unsightly pigmentation.

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