It’s summer time and with the months of longer days and the much-anticipated sunshine comes the need for protecting your skin from sun damage. One of the easiest ways that we can do that is by using sunscreen, and the options seem endless.
We hear the acronym ‘SPF’ a lot at this time of year but do you really understand what it means and how that understanding can help protect your skin from sun damage?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a relative measure of how a product will protect you from UV rays (Predominantly UVB rays unless otherwise specified on the label). Products generally range form low SPF of 15 to much higher rating of up to 100 SPF.
A higher SPF does offer an increase in protection, but not always a much as you might think:
- SPF 15 will block approximately 93% of UVB rays.
- SPF 30 will block approximately 97% of UVB rays
- SPF 50 will block approximately 98% of UVB rays
- SPF 100 will block approximately 99% of UVB rays
Using your sunscreen properly
How you use sunscreen increases the effectiveness of it as well. Most people don’t use enough, or re-apply as often as they should to be protected.
- An adult sized person should be using 2 tablespoons (or more) of sunscreen to cover all exposed skin.
- To be effective, it should be reapplied every two hours, or more if you are swimming or sweating excessively.
- Remember to use sunscreen even on cloudy days; UV rays can pass through clouds.
- Check the expiry date! Some of the compounds in sunscreen lose their efficacy over time – be sure to check that it is still within the posted expiry date on the label.
- Protect your sunscreen from the sun and heat. Extreme temperatures can also break down the compounds in the sunscreen so be sure to tuck the bottle away somewhere out of direct sun and extreme heat.
No sunscreen, regardless of the SPF, will protect you completely and it should be only a part of your overall sun protection when enjoying the outdoors. Clothing, lip balm, hats, eye protection and avoiding the peak sun hours of 10:00am to 4:00pm should all be part of your plans to keep your skin protected as much as possible.
Get out this summer and soak up the sunshine – just be smart and safe when it comes to sun protection while you’re doing it.